In June 2015, a small drum fire on the family property quickly turned into a life threatening situation for nine year old Caleb.
Caleb unknowingly picked up a bottle that had contained petrol and put it on the fire. Next thing he knew, he was running into the house, screaming – his whole torso and face on fire.
Both his parents jumped into action, receiving burns themselves in trying to put the flames out. His mum called 000 and his dad did the ‘stop, drop and roll’. It wasn’t working fast enough though so they put him in the bath, as recommended by emergency services on the phone.
Caleb was rushed to their local hospital in Millmerran, just west of Toowoomba, where the emergency team was waiting to fly Caleb to Brisbane. He was sedated and intubated (anesthetised) and it became clear the extent of Caleb’s injuries were full thickness over half his body.
As soon as Caleb arrived at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital he went in for eight hours of emergency surgery with Professor Roy Kimble, the leading burns clinic surgeon and researcher.
Following his surgery, Caleb was placed in a medically induced coma for 27 days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to allow his body to recover from the traumatic effects of such large burns.
Shortly after, Caleb suffered a cardiac arrest due to the large acute burn systemic affects. He fought – and survived – and he, his mum and his family have continued to fight ever since.
For two months, Caleb was confined to a wheelchair because of the extent of his injuries. He spent three months in hospital receiving multiple skin grafts, dressing changes, steroid injections, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and hospital schooling. To date Caleb has had over 50 hours of surgery.
Caleb is now back home but his recovery will be ongoing, with more skin grafts, continued scar management, and regular trips to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. He wears a pressure garment on his face and body and needs regular steroid injections into his scars to reduce the thickening and tightening.
He also visits Toowoomba Hospital regularly for his physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions.
Tune into the Channel Nine Telethon on Saturday 19 November 2016 to follow Caleb’s recovery and learn how you can help sick kids like him, today and tomorrow.