A pretty dress as Arna's slow healing begins

ARNA HOPKINS: 'She looks beautiful and is slowly getting better every day.'
ARNA HOPKINS: 'She looks beautiful and is slowly getting better every day.'

When Arna Hopkins was badly burnt a month ago, her father promised her a new "pretty dress" to replace the one she lost in the fire.

This week Regan Hopkins came good on his promise, briefly dressing the 3-year-old in a colourful dress at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

The occasion was just one bright point in a week full of positive news for the Martinborough family, as Arna moved out of intensive care yesterday.

Doctors have also said Arna's skin grafts have taken well, and she will not need any further surgery for the time being.

Mr Hopkins said he was "ecstatic" about Arna's move into the Kidz First ward.

“This is what we consider to be the end of the worst of it all. I'm relieved but this is just another step. We are focusing on getting her back home and while that is still some time off, it's something we're looking forward to.”

Arna had been a "brave little girl the whole time", he said.

"I'm still not sure if she can take it all in, but that will all come with time, I guess.”

Arna suffered severe burns to her body and face on September 10, after 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 in August.

Arna's uncle, Kane Hopkins, said the next step was rehabilitation and scar management.

"It will take at least two years until Arna will recover from her burns and in that time she may need some corrective surgery," he said.

"But at the moment she looks beautiful and is slowly getting better every day."

She had spent the past four weeks in bed, mostly heavily sedated, and had been into the operating theatre 14 times. Her medical care had been wonderful.

"When I first saw Arna in hospital just after her accident, I'd never have believed that she would be where she is now.

"I've said it before: those people [at the burns unit] are saintly."

Friends of the Hopkins family announced yesterday that a fundraising bank account started for Arna was being closed and the money passed to the family. They thanked donors for their "immense support".

The Dominion Post