Adolescent Girl Doing Well After Shirt Catches on Fire

Skyanne Heier burn victim

Nancy Heier of Crosswell, Michigan, was coming home from work when her 12 year-old daughter Skyanne had just gotten home from school in June of 2010. She was looking for Skyanne, but noticed something was not quite right when she entered the house and smelled smoke. “I didn’t see Skyanne but saw her shirt on the stairs and noticed it was burned.” Nancy saw her daughter outside in the backyard with a piece of clothing wrapped around her. By the time she went to the backyard, the police, fire department and ambulance had arrived. Skyanne had called 911 after her shirt accidentally caught on fire.

Even with all of the emergency personnel at her house, Nancy was not as anxious as she normally would be in that situation because Skyanne seemed so calm. “She didn’t even cry or seem to be in pain initially, but in the ambulance Skyanne’s skin started to blister throughout her stomach and arms, and that’s when we knew the situation was serious.”

Doctor’s at the local hospital explained that she should be transferred via ambulance to Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the state’s only verified pediatric burn center. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Burn Center treats approximately 500 children yearly throughout the state of Michigan for a variety of burns. As a verified pediatric burn center, comprehensive care includes emotional and psychological support, acute care and rehabilitation. The extensive care and treatment is designed to ensure the best possible outcome including a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return home.

“Skyanne arrived to us with deep second and third degree burns involving multiple areas of her body” says Christina Shanti, MD, director, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Burn Center. “We talked to her and her parents about her injuries and the plan for her daily wound care as well as her nutritional needs to heal. We discussed the likelihood of needing a skin graft to treat her deep burns and speed her recovery.”

With the psychological support of the burn center’s child life specialists and expert burn nurses, Skyanne underwent twice daily wound treatments that included cleansing and application of a burn cream that can aid in the healing process. She also underwent a skin graft from below her shoulder to just above her elbow. Skin grafts are used to treat deep second degree and third degree burns. This treatment can reduce the number of days burn patients spend in the hospital and usually improves the function and appearance of the burned area, especially when the face, hands, or feet are involved.

Another crucial component to Skyanne’s continued recovery is the use of a pressure garment that needs to be worn for the next two years, 23 hours per day. Pressure garments help prevent and control the formation of scars by applying counter pressure to the healed area and can also reduce deformities. According to Dr. Shanti, it is important that burn patients begin wearing pressure garments in the early stages after a burn heals as the new skin grafts are maturing and most responsive to pressure therapy. This will ensure the best outcome functionally and cosmetically.

Nancy says getting her daughter to wear the garment is one of the biggest challenges, but she tries to emphasize what a difference it can make in her recovery.

Fortunately for Skyanne, her recovery is progressing very well. Skyanne is enjoying cheerleading and playing with friends. And Nancy, who drives with Skyanne from Crosswell, located 25 miles north of Port Huron, says the longer drive to receive care at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Burn Center is worth it.

“It doesn’t matter, that I drive more than two hours for treatment. The nurses, doctors and burn center staff know who we are when we call on the phone. The care is simply exceptional and I know Skyanne is getting the best treatment possible. As far as I’m concerned, there is no other hospital I would ever think of going to.”

For further information or to schedule an appointment call (313) 745-KIDS or toll-free at (888) 362-2500.