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Oct 7, 2016

Fire Victims Flown out to U.S. for Life-Saving Treatment

This afternoon, two minors severely burnt in an act of arson were airlifted to the United States. Four-year old Ian Sambula and eight-year old Empress Hamilton sustained burns to ninety percent of their bodies in a fire deliberately set on a house on Aloe Vera Street in the city. Their mother Melissa Hamilton, who was also injured in the blaze, accompanied them as they left the K.H.M.H. and were transferred to an air ambulance at the Philip Goldson Airport. Even in the face of adversity, the mother is hopeful for a recovery. Her nephew, eleven year old Aaron Gabourel perished in the fire. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Melisa Hamilton, Mother of Fire Victims

“I know dehn wah make it; God noh wah take them away. I think if he mi wah tek them away from that night he mi wah do it. And he see that dehn dah innocent kids and they never deserve that; so I think that he di fight with them too fi make dehn survive.”


Empress Hamilton

Duane Moody, Reporting

Hope – in a most adverse scenario – is what the mother and family of four year old Ian Sambula and eight year old Empress Hamilton have as they both fight for their lives for third degree burns to ninety percent of their bodies following a most tragic arson turn murder earlier this week. On Monday night, the news spread like wildfire: a special needs child had perished in an inferno as he slept in his bedroom. His cousins, Ian and Empress, as well as his father, Winston Gabourel Senior received various degrees of burns during a home invasion around eight o’clock. The siblings were severely burned and have a ten percent chance of survival.


Dr. Cecilio Eck, Head of Pediatric Unit, K.H.M.H.

“We had the pediatric surgeon Doctor Aguilar from the Cuban brigade and we had our pediatrician neonatologist, Doctor Constanza, who were on duty on that fateful night and they both sprung into action, stabilized the kids and were admitted to our ICU.”


Cecilio Eck


“The condition that they are now in medically and what it is like for them at this point?”


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Well initially the first issue is to resuscitate when kids or adult get burn. The skin doesn’t only protects you from many germs that are trying to invade, but it keeps moisture in. So the first twenty-four hours were playing catch-up with putting in fluids. They were taken to the theatre by the pediatric surgeon and she actually cleaned the wounds, dressed them and then gave us some lines for us to resuscitate the babies with. We admitted to ICU and the risk now is with swelling, with inflammation, there could be compression of each of the compartments in your limbs or your thorax that would decrease blood flow to your organs. So the management then would be put in the ward, we give IV fluids, we give our antibiotics to prevent infections and we monitor closely. But Belize isn’t equipped for this severity of burn injury.”


Ian Sambula

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, Yvette Burks of the Burn Victim Mercy Fund reached out to the family. The nonprofit organization has helped twenty-eight burn victims since its inception and she says that there is life after being burnt. Burks’ charity organization took out a loan for the sixty-thousand plus dollars plane that’s transporting the children to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Texas, U.S.A. for life-saving medical attention.


Yvette Burks, Burn Victim Mercy Fund

“Finally it’s been very difficult because there it’s two of them, because both of them are so critical. So we need to have very advance care on the plane, both of them are in intensive care. Really it’s been one of the worst, most challenging cases that I have ever dealt with and I have been doing this for almost twenty years and you are aware because frankly the cost was prohibitive. We managed to get a bigger jet, which will be landing at about twelve-thirty so in less than a hour than now, to come at a much cheaper cost because at first I got quotes of over a hundred thousand dollars. Thankfully, the one that is coming now is almost sixty-five thousand dollars and both children will go on one plane.”


Yvette Burks

But with the severity of their injury, Ian and Empress had to be stabilized and prepared to withstand the two hour flight to Texas. Shriners Hospital, in its continued commitment to help fire victims, sent Burn Surgeon Doctor William Sherman to Belize this morning to prep the kids.


Yvette Burks

“He is working with the children now, trying to prepare them in such a manner that they will be able to survive the flight and get to the facility. When we made the application to Shriner’s we knew it was a long shot, but Shriner’s insist that it is worth a try; they’ve insist that they have been able to help children of this level of injury. And with that being said, it is worth trying. Where there is life, there is hope.”


It’s been an overwhelming experience for their mother, Melisa Hamilton—her two children have a slim chance of survival; her nephew, Aaron Gabourel was killed in the blaze; her brother-in-law is still hospitalized in the K.H.M.H. for burns to both his arms and chest and now her children are being airlifted to Texas for urgent medical treatment in an attempt to save their lives. Melisa received burns to her right arm, after the murderer doused her with gasoline during the horrific ordeal and her children are suffering.


Melisa Hamilton

Melisa Hamilton

“Every time I remember it and it flash back ina my head, it make I cy; it make I feel fi just run and scream. But I know I have to stay strong fi my two baby dehn in yah cause I know they di hear me. And if I go on emotion and they hear, it will break them down. So I have to stay strong like dehn mother. It’s hard yes. It’s hard. When I fi come yah fi come check on them, when I di come here, my heart di race. I know I in a bad state and any minute I could hear bad news. But when I reach, God make I hear something good.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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