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Arna readied for skin graft surgery

SEAMUS BOYER
Last updated 05:00 26/09/2012
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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Martinborough toddler Arna Hopkins is expected to breathe for herself today for the first time since she was badly burnt a fortnight ago.

Arna, 3, spent six hours in theatre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital on Monday as medical staff cleaned her wounds in preparation for possible skin grafts later this week.

Doctors were hoping to remove her breathing tube yesterday or today, allowing her to breathe unassisted during the upcoming operation.

It is another small step in Arna's recovery after she opened her eyes and communicated with her family last week.

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 last month.

Before her surgery on Monday, Arna's father, Regan, posted on Facebook that Arna was "so brave".

"It doesn't get any easier watching them roll Arna off to surgery, took quite a while to pull ourselves together this morning.

"She will be in theatre most of the day."

Mr Hopkins badly burnt his hands saving his daughter, but said his injuries were healing well.

"Most of my fingers working with a few not so good. Bit more time maybe?"

Arna's uncle, Kane Hopkins, said as her condition improved she was becoming more aware of her injuries.

"She's a 3-year-old and she wants to move about but she's got lots of tubes in her.

"So that brings with it its own stresses for everyone."

Yesterday bids on a Trade Me auction for two nights at Wharekauhau Lodge in south Wairarapa had reached $1000.

The auction includes a helicopter ride to the lodge, bringing its total value to nearly $4000.

All proceeds go towards Arna's recovery.

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- The Dominion Post

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