Bandaged up and squirming in his grandmother’s arms just days after being accidentally doused with burning diesel from an oil lamp, 12-day-old Thea Sokun can’t possibly realize the full extent of his injuries.
Burns cover his face and arms—totaling 10 percent of his tiny body—-and doctors on July 3 were still monitoring the wounds for infection and his body for signs of shock.
But three days after the horrific accident, which occurred in his Kompong Cham province home on June 30 when his grandfather tried to add fuel to a burning oil lamp, doctors are hopeful that little Thea Sokun will pull through.
Tau Veasna, head of pediatric surgery at the Kantha Bopha IV Hospital, where Thea Sokun is receiving free treatment, said it is likely the baby boy will survive his injuries.
Doctors change the dressing on Thea Sokun’s burns every day to keep the wounds clean, and are treating him with antibiotics and blood transfusions. They said on Tuesday that they hope to be able to perform skin graft operations in the future, but cannot say yet if this will be possible.
Long Thon, Thea Sokun’s 45-year-old grandmother, said that the infant was awake and breastfeeding when the oil lamp’s flame spread over him and his 18-year-old mother Mean Kdeb.
“My husband caused it by accident,” she said. “I am really sad to see both my daughter-in-law and little grandson being injured.”
In Se, deputy director of Kompong Cham provincial hospital where the injured mother and child were initially sent, said the mother is still being treated there.
“The little baby was sent to Phnom Penh because we were afraid that we could not save him,” he said.
Tau Veasna said his Kantha Bopha hospital branch sees many burn cases and currently has 16 burn patients. He said the hospital is fully equipped to treat children who suffer a variety of burn injuries, including those from acid, petroleum and hot water.
“It is not necessary to go overseas for burn treatment,” he said, adding that his staff perform skin graft operations on a daily basis.
Sitting by her grandson’s bed, Long Thon said she was pleased with the treatment he is receiving.
“I am happy to be in this hospital because it is a better one for treating young children,” she said.