A six-year-old girl needed amputations after being caught in a house fire caused by candles burning indoors.
Kenzie was at her father’s aparment in December when an unattended candle in the apartment below got too close to the sofa and set it alight.
Kenzie, whose surname hasn’t been revealed, hid in a bedroom until firefighters found her surrounded by flames.
She was rushed to hospital where it was discovered 68 per cent of her body was burnt, including her face, scalp, back and limbs.
Her skin became infected, meaning she needed six surgeries, including skin grafts and the removal of five fingers and four toes on her left side.
Kenzie, six, needed amputations after a house fire caused by burning candles indoors. Pictured before the incident
Kenzie, six, was on a family holiday in December 2018 when an unattended candle in the apartment below got too close to the sofa and set it alight. Pictured in hospital after her head needed to be shaved to get to the burns on her scalp
It was discovered 68 per cent of her body was burnt, including her face, scalp, back (pictured) and limbs
Kenzie now has to wear garments and splints for 22 hours a day while she recovers
Her mother, Jessica, who was not there during the fire, said: ‘This one household decoration has turned my daughters whole life upside down.
‘I want to make the dangers of lighting candles known so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s little one.’
On December 16, Jessica, a former chef, from Indiana, received a phone call from Kenzie’s father telling her what had happened.
She said: ‘After being in the fire for three minutes, Kenzie was rescued by firefighters and rushed to hospital to treat her burns.
‘Obviously I got to the hospital as quickly as I could and as soon as I walked in to the ward I knew how serious this was.
‘She was black from head to toe and evidently in so much pain.
‘She was then airlifted to a children’s hospital, and it was here that I found out that she had 68 per cent burns on her body and that she would need multiple surgeries.’
Kenzie’s mother, Jessica, said she rushed to hospital, pictured, after hearing the news about her daughter, who she was not with during the incident
Jessica was told Kenzie would have to have five fingers and four toes on the left side of her body removed, as they had completely died (pictured, her left hand)
Jessica said her heart broke when Kenzie woke up from surgery and didn’t know where her fingers and toes had gone. Pictured, her left foot after toes were amputated
Jessica said: ‘Unfortunately on her third surgery [December 27] Kenzie had to have her beautiful blonde hair removed, as the burns had covered her scalp’
Kenzie was in hospital recovering for three months. Pictured, the burns on her face
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BODY WHEN IT IS BURNT?
Severe burns cause serious, body-wide problems. At the root of most of these problems is the body’s explosive inflammatory response.
The inflammatory response activates in response to infection, injury, or other threat to destroy the cause of the problem, contain the damage, and clean up the mess left by dead cells and other debris.
But when faced with large or deep burns, it can overreact, often making the injury more severe and harming the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and other organ systems.
During this inflammatory response, there is fluid loss that can cause a sharp and potentially deadly drop in blood pressure known as shock. Fluid can also become trapped inside the body, leading to swelling known as edema.
If tissues and organs do not receive enough oxygen because of shock, edema, or something else, they suffer damage and can fail.
The lungs, heart, brain, and kidneys are particularly susceptible.
Infection is also a major concern.
Burns also weaken the immune system, so the body is less able to fight off threats. Infections can take hold not only in the injured area, but also in organs such as the lungs (pneumonia) and bloodstream (sepsis), where they are potentially lethal.
Burns that exceed 30 per cent of a person’s body can be fatal, according to the National Institutes of Health.
After being admitted to Riley Hospital for Children, Kenzie endured six surgeries over the course of a month to clear her skin of infection that had been caused by the density of her burns.
Jessica said: ‘It was only two days after she went to hospital that Kenzie had her first surgery to help reduce all of the swelling in her body.
‘From this point onwards, Kenzie had biweekly surgeries to remove all of the dead skin and replace it with the surviving skin on her thigh, as well as clearing her body from infection that she had accrued.
‘Unfortunately on her third surgery [December 27] Kenzie had to have her beautiful blonde hair removed.’
The burns had covered Kenzie’s scalp but part of it was able to be used for a skin graft.
The most devastating news was before the fourth surgery on January 3, when Jessica was told Kenzie would have to have five fingers and four toes on the left side of her body removed, as they had been left completely unusable.
Extensive burns can lead to a loss of blood supply. Amputation of fingers is more common than amputation of limbs.
Jessica said: ‘This was one of the hardest things for her to understand, as she suddenly woke up and couldn’t figure out where her hands and fingers had gone – which completely broke my heart.’
The same month, Kenzie took her first steps without her left toes, except her big toe, before being moved to the rehab unit in February.
She was finally discharged from hospital on March 12 and returned to school on April 4, despite her new life including wearing splints and garments for 22 hours a day.
Kenzie’s family worry that she won’t live a normal life due to the severity of the burns. Pictured in hospital
Kenzie had surgeries to remove all of the dead skin and replace it with the surviving skin from her thigh. Pictured, in hospital with her scalp bandaged
Kenzie went to a rehab centre in February where she learnt to walk without her toes
Jessica, pictured with Kenzie before the fire, is speaking out about the dangers of leaving candles unattended
Jessica said: ‘Kenzie is a very brave girl and has made amazing progress since leaving hospital – we are all so very proud of her.
‘One of the sayings that has kept her going is “I’m beautiful, I’m strong, I’ve walked through fire – what’s your superpower?” and this has been prominent in her journey.
Although Kenzie has already made fast progress, her family are concerned with how altered her life will be.
Jessica said: ‘We worry that she’s not going to develop like a normal girl, and her amputations will cause difficulty with every day tasks.
‘As amazing as she is, this situation could have easily been avoided if a candle wasn’t lit in the first place – and that’s what I want people to know.
‘Hopefully by seeing what my baby has been through, people will stop leaving candles unattended and see the life changing affects it can have.’
Kenzie’s family have created t-shirts to help
WHAT ARE BURNS?
Burns are damage to the skin caused by dry heat, such as an iron or a fire.
This is different to scalds, which occur due to wet heat like hot water or steam.
Burns can be very painful and may cause:
- Red or peeling skin
- White or charred skin
But the amount of pain a person feels is not always related to how serious the burn is.
Even a very serious burn can be painless.
To treat a burn:
- Remove the heat source
- Cool with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes. Do not use ice
- Remove any nearby clothing or jewellery unless it is stuck to the skin
- Keep the person warm with a blanket
- Cover the burn with clingfilm
- Use painkillers like paracetamol if necessary
- If the face or eyes are burnt, keep sitting up to reduce swelling
Burns that require immediate A&E treatment are:
- Chemical or electrical
- Large or deep – bigger than the injured person’s hand
- Those that cause white or charred skin
- Those on the face, hands, limbs, feet or genitals that blister
Pregnant women, children under five, the elderly, those with a weak immune system and people suffering from a medical condition, like diabetes, should also go to hospital.
Treatment depends on what layers of the skin are affected.
In severe cases, a skin graft may be required.