A nod is a little victory for badly burned Arna

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012
Arna Hopkins
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BURNT: Arna Hopkins, 3, suffered severe burns to her face and body while lighting a candle for her dead twin.

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For the first time in 11 days, 3-year-old burns victim Arna Hopkins has opened her eyes and communicated with her family.

The Martinborough toddler has been heavily sedated and on oxygen in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital since suffering burns to 50 per cent of her body last Monday.

But yesterday morning, before another round in the operating theatre, her sedatives were reduced enough for her to wake up, look at her mum, and respond to questions with nods.

"It was another little victory," her uncle Kane Hopkins said.

It was the second positive moment in Arna's recovery this week, after the toddler received her first skin grafts to her chest and abdomen on Wednesday for the worst of her burns.

Mr Hopkins said that last Saturday Arna's future was "looking pretty grim", but things were now progressing.

"They reduced the sedatives to a point where she has come around. She was able to nod and shake her head and actually see [mum] Penny is there. Which is enormous progress from earlier in the week.

"It's been a really nice week for her.

"For Penny it was very exciting. [Now] we are really confident that she is going to make a significant recovery."

Arna suffered severe burns to her body and face after accidentally setting fire to her clothes at her home.

She had been lighting a candle for twin sister Mila, who was born with Down syndrome and died of an infection last month.

Arna's surgery on Wednesday took about four hours. Yesterday she returned to the theatre for a clean and a check-up for another 45 minutes. She is scheduled for more surgery next week.

"They are using a range of treatments for her burns, and grafting is something they can look at more now because she is more stable," Mr Hopkins said.

"I guess the next thing we are looking forward to is that she will be able to breathe for herself."

SUPPORTING A 'BLOODY GOOD CAUSE'

A n American billionaire's family company has set two charity targets to raise money for the Hopkins family.

Foley Family Wines - owned by American insurance mogul and wine entrepreneur Bill Foley - is fronting two campaigns for the "bloody good cause".

Mr Foley, ranked No 6 on the New Zealand rich list with an estimated fortune of $1.5b, is the majority owner of luxury Wairarapa lodge Wharekauhau and Te Kairanga Wines in Martinborough.

Mark Turnbull, chief executive of Foley Family Wines, said the Hopkins' double tragedy of having had one daughter die and another severely burnt had struck a nerve.

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"It was brought to my attention about Arna's [fundraising] appeal.

"It's a pretty bloody sad story. It's important in the Wairarapa that we support this sort of stuff."

Wharekauhau Lodge is auctioning a luxury weekend at the resort, "with all proceeds being donated to the Hopkins family to support them throughout Arna's recovery".

The auction is for two nights' accommodation in a Cottage Suite during October - including pre-dinner drinks and canapes, a four-course gourmet dinner each night and daily cooked country breakfast - valued at $2990.

The second campaign is through the Wine Exchange website, www.wine-exchange.co.nz

For every case of wine bought online between now and October 31, Foley Family Wines will donate $5.

When purchasing, use ARNA as the promotion code.

- The Dominion Post

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