Sheila was a typical six-year-old. She probably liked to play with friends, retreat into her imagination and be doted on by her loved ones. But now, she’s fighting for her life at The Grossman Burn Center at HCA-affiliate West Hills Hospital.
Sheila suffered third degree burns to her neck, chest, arms and thighs after accidentally setting her shirt on fire in her remote village of Indonesia. Weeks she spent in her village, with her family unsure of how to treat her wounds, until an aid organization that partners with The Grossman Burn Foundation, the center’s charitable arm, discovered her on a routine medical check and transported her the nearly half-day’s ride to their clinic.
The clinic staff there, who had been trained to treat burn injuries by nurses at the Grossman Burn Center, immediately recognized that Sheila needed much more than they could provide. Led by Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director of The Grossman Burn Center, and a coalition of surgeons, hospital executives and non-profit organizations, they rushed to save Sheila after learning of her life-threatening condition.
“We were really behind the eight ball when we started,” Dr. Grossman said, “but with the team of nurses, physicians and caretakers and the loving prayers and thoughts of so many people, we have a shot.”
Since she and her father arrived in Los Angeles, Sheila has undergone four surgeries and has overcome unforeseen obstacles, including:
- a procedure to release her chin from her neck after a burn contracture developed, and to secure her airway and remove contaminated skin;
- a lice infestation that resulted in caregivers shaving her hair; the discovery of bacteria in her wounds, which delayed skin grafting; and the use of cadaver skin as a temporary dressing until her own skin could be applied;
- a procedure which took skin from her scalp, back, arms and legs to cover burn area on her neck, torso, arms and legs.
“Her wounds looked so much better today than they had,” Dr. Grossman said after the fourth surgery. “It gave us a very positive feeling, but there are still a lot of obstacles that can come our way. Having said that, I’m incredibly happy with the progress we’ve made today and this was the biggest step we’ve made so far.”
The Grossman Burn Center has donated its services to provide this life-saving care for Sheila.
“We are in the business of helping people and restoring lives,” Dr. Grossman said. “To be able to bring that level of care to a child from a disadvantaged area of the world is truly gratifying.”
Watch the work of caregivers at The Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital as they fight to #SaveSheila.
The Grossman Burn Centers treat approximately 3,500 burn patients annually. The generous support from the Grossman Burn Foundation, Children’s Burn Foundation, West Hills Hospital, an HCA affiliate, and Grossman Burn Center’s Medical Director, Peter H. Grossman helped make this healing miracle happen.