“Blowing kisses is a way for both the caregiver and patient to express their love to each other.”
~ Dr Nikki Allorto

Meet our little charmer

He comes from an area just outside of Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal. Our little charmer is four years old. We named him thus because when he was lying on the theatre table before going to sleep, he said in Zulu: “ngiyathandawena kakhulu” which means ‘I love you a lot’ to Dr Nikki Allorto and a colleague who were on either side of the table holding his hands.

Dr Nikki Allorto then went on to teach Little Charmer how to blow kisses. It is problematic to show physical affection when a child is badly hurt and bandaged throughout his face and torso. Blowing kisses is a way for both the caregiver and patient to express their love to each other.

Little Charmer is one of six children, with the oldest being 10 years old and the youngest seven months. Mom was in the kitchen boiling water for the baby’s bottles and saw the kids playing outside. She poured the hot water into a bowl and added the bottles for sterilising. She turned her back for a second and as she turned around she saw our charmer reaching up for the bowl and boiling water poured over him.

One can just imagine the trauma and screams that ensued. He was then rushed to the nearest hospital and then referred to us as the burn service for the region. Accidents like this happen all over South Africa every day, and luckily for our little charmer, most of his wounds will heal well. He is also surrounded by a loving parent and is receiving lots of love and care from the caregivers.

Surgeons Report

  • Little charmer suffered 25% TBSA (Total Body Surface Area).
  • His burns were located on his face, chest, abdomen and shoulders
  • His face had superficial partial burns and 15% of his burns were deep dermal depth

Treatment Plan Used

When Little charmer was first admitted he was surgically managed to remove layers of dead burnt tissue by using a high pressure precision water tool. The fresh wounds were then covered with a synthetic skin substitute. Some of the burn wound healed and some required skin grafting which was done. He was also given intravenous antibiotics to combat infection as well as tube feeding to build up calories to aid the healing process. Alongside this treatment he also received occupational therapy to keep his joints mobile.

The surgical goal was to have him in hospital for only one day for each percentage burnt. So ideally his stay in hospital should have been 25 days. Fortunately our Little charmer was discharged in 27 days. Mom is very happy as she can see her child has healed well.

There is work to be done in this area as most burn patients are staying in hospital for more than one day per percentage burn.