Burnt boy back to best, says dad
Harley Rex Saunders is a 3-year-old who loves getting into mischief, watching the cartoon Ben 10, and playing with his Dinky toys.
Earlier this year, the toddler was plucked from a house fire in Invercargill, but now he is back to his bubbly self, his father says.
Jimmy Saunders said yesterday his son, who was flown to hospital in Auckland after the fire, had been back in Invercargill for the past few weeks.
"He's fine, he's doing well . . . he's the same kid [as before the fire]. You couldn't ask for a better kid," he said.
Harley had three skin grafts at Middlemore Hospital after he suffered first, second and third degree burns to his stomach, his arms, his head, and his left leg. He was also treated for smoke inhalation.
Staff at Middlemore had done "a bloody good job of fixing him" and were pleased with how quickly and how well his son had progressed, he said.
"The only thing we've got to do is make sure his skin stays moisturised, so it doesn't shrink," he said.
The pair were living with Mr Saunders' mother, Harley's grandmother, in Invercargill.
"He's good as. He's chirpy, happy . . . he doesn't even know what happened, because he was asleep," Mr Saunders said.
Firefighters had to hold Mr Saunders back the morning of the fire, to try to stop him from going inside the burning building to rescue his son, he said.
Other family living at the Teviot St home suffered minor injuries in the fire, and it had been an anxious time for them all waiting to see how Harley would recover.
"He was unconscious for about four to five days," Mr Saunders said. "They took him off ventilation and the oxygen and that, and then he started breathing by himself.
"He couldn't talk for about a week because his throat passage was scorched, but other than that he was pretty good. Now the problem is trying to keep him quiet.
"We didn't know Harley was going to be OK, because they put him to sleep and they covered him in jelly . . . We didn't know [Harley would get better] till we got up to Middlemore. We knew he was going to live, but we didn't know he would recover.
"You can't really explain the joy in my eyes when he started laughing at me. The feeling was just phenomenal."
The family were grateful for everybody's help and support during and after the fire.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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