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STORY

All it took was a bowl of boiling pasta and water to burn Johanna so severely that her treatment will continue into her teenage years.

Johanna, 4 years old, burns

In a split second, an accident can burn a child so severely that they endure lifelong physical and emotional pain.
Young children are amazing little explorers. They have a wonderful sense of curiosity and are fearless in pursuit of new experiences. Sadly, accidents happen, and severe burns can cause a lifetime of physical and emotional pain.

Meg still can’t understand how it happened. She was watching closely over her two young daughters when four-year-old Johanna did something she had never done before.

“When the microwave beeped, Johanna sprang forward,” remembers Meg. “Suddenly she was screaming. Before I could stop her, she had taken the scalding bowl of pasta and spilled it on herself. I rushed her to the bathroom to run her burns under cold water. I thought the water was washing away the pasta; but then I realised layers of Johanna’s skin were peeling away.”

Little Johanna was put into the capable hands of a medical team who has seen all too often the lifelong trauma that burns can cause.

Professor Roy Kimble, Director of the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research at QCMRI has spent the last 15 years researching the best way to treat burns in children.

“Burns are among the most painful things that can happen to a child and they are still a major problem across every state in Australia.”

“Some poor kids need up to 70 or 80 operations throughout their childhood because, as they grow, their scars don’t grow with them. They need skin grafts on an ongoing basis.”

From that split-second accident in the family kitchen, Johanna received burns to large parts of her body. On the tops of her legs, under her arms, her chest, and even parts of her chin and back. At only four years old, she had been severely scalded with second and third degree burns.

Brave Johanna had a series of skin grafts as surgeons battled to save her from long-term scarring. After two weeks in hospital, Johanna was able to return home, but she still had a long recovery ahead.

To help her skin heal, Johanna had to wear a pressure suit covering her body from neck to knee to elbows, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now aged eight, Johanna’s treatment continues – but you’ll be pleased to know that she no longer has to wear her pressure suit and her life is happily full of school, friends, dancing and of course, her loving family.