When we received a call from Torben’s nursery in Brazil to say he’d been taken to hospital ‘because of a glue accident’, we were worried but we weren't afraid.
We expected the glue to have hardened all over his body and we knew from the school's call that it was in his mouth, sticking his hair to his scalp, his toes all together and his hands to bits of material. But all of that is fixable. Uncomfortable, yes. A bit traumatising, sure. But fixable.
Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw when we arrived at A&E.
Torben was covered in 2nd and 3rd degree burns. They were all over his chest, left arm and entire left shoulder, right up to his nexk. And to make matters worse, he was suffering from an allergic reaction to the chemicals in the glue, causing him intense pain and itching as well as making it difficult for him to breath. Our baby was distraught.
(only click this link if you want to view Torben's injuries. These are graphic photos of open wounds)
I’ll be completely honest and say that the last 10 days have been the worst of our lives (for me, my husband and, of course, Torben).
Every day our baby wakes in his hospital bed, which he hates (he’s not the kind of baby to be kept behind bars). He’s forced to take strong medicines, which makes him cry (he always hating being forced to do anything). He's then drugged with ketamine and tramadol so his wounds can be scrubbed and cleaned without hurting or scaring him.
And, on top of that, he’s had to accept that the people he trusts the most in the world will intentionally inflict discomfort on him for reasons he doesn't understand (video example from the 3rd day of his treatment).
He’s scared, he's sad and he wants to leave. But we can’t let him.
I don’t write this to force pity. I write it because I’m angry and scared for his future. He shouldn’t even be in this situation.
Kids rely on us to keep them safe. And his nursery, of all places, failed to do that.
They left him unsupervised with a large container of glue. Like most babies, he's curious. So he grabbed the container and pulled it over himself. But this wasn't the water-based, PVA most nurseries use... it was super glue and, as it hit his cotton clothes, it triggered a chemical reaction that superheated in milliseconds and burnt right through his skin, leaving him with extensive 3rd degree (full-thickness) burns.
Even after the glue was removed, it kept burning him for days, increasing the depth and severity of his wounds. They went from mostly 2nd to almost entirely 3rd between day 1 and 7. I can only imagine how much pain he was in during these moments.
Torben needs over a year or rehabilitative care. He’ll need skin grafts, wound care, custom compression bandages, physiotherapy, psychotherapy and more if he's going to retain full use of his arm and recover from the trauma of this incident. It's a lot for a 19 month old.
Unfortunately, Brazil doesn’t have the funding to offer him these things. So, although we had planned to stay in Brazil until March (as part of a 6-month visit to introduce him to his Brazilian family and live cheaply to pay off our debts), we need to think about his future.
The last thing we want is for him to be burdened by extensive scars, emotional trauma and restricted joint movement for the rest of his life.
He deserves the best care we can give him. And that’s in Scotland, at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and in a loving home with his nana, where we can all feel supported.
We want to take him home. But, getting him back is going to cost.
We’ve had quotes between £6000-10,000 for a medical escort to accompany him to the UK. A lot can go wrong in a day with a sick baby. Especially one with multiple allergies and fresh wounds.
I know it’s a whopper, but we have to make it work. He has skin graft surgery on the 27th December and will be stable enough to move 2 weeks later. Our only objective is to get him home in time to receive the kind of care that will minimise long-term disability.
We only get one shot at this. Once a wound has scarred it's fixed for life.
We can’t undo what’s happened to him. Not with all the money in the world.
But, with a bit of help, we can get him the care and love he needs.
We’re not expecting miracles. But please give what you can and share Torben’s story far and wide.
Thank you for reading and thinking about helping our little boy.
NB: Any funds we don’t use for medical repatriation to the UK will be used for any resulting legal fees relating to the accident or to replace income we've lost during Torben's hospitalisation and recovery.
If there are funds remaining, or if our legal and medical expenses are returned at the end of any legal process, we will donate the money to the Burns Unit at Hospital Joao XXIII. They do an amazing with job few resources and chronic underfunding.
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