Walking into the Emergency Department at the Perth Children’s Hospital with their sick two-year-old daughter Amelia, Brianna and Russell felt…
It only took a split second for 18-month-old Ella’s life to change, and that of her parents.
And it’s fair to say that her story could belong to almost any West Australian family with young children.
Ella was only a toddler when she was padding around the kitchen with her grandfather, who was making a cuppa. He had just finished pouring a large novelty mug of piping hot tea, and was waiting for it to steep before handing it to his wife – Ella’s grandmother.
But when he turned his back for less than a second Ella reached up for the mug, and as she did so the scalding hot water poured all over the left side of her face and tiny body.
For Ella and her parents, who had only returned from their honeymoon three days previously, their lives would always be different. They leapt from the table and rushed to the bathroom where they poured cold water over her body while an ambulance was called. She was immediately taken to Rockingham Hospital where she was sedated before being rushed to the Princess Margaret Hospital Burns unit.
Her mum Chelsea says that particular journey was nothing short of traumatic, with the family having been told their little girl had received between 70-80% burns to her chest and stomach.
“The medical staff at Rockingham said they didn’t know how she’d travel, and that we should prepare for the worse,” says Chelsea. “The medical staff thought the scalding water could have travelled into her internal organs and they just didn’t know if she’d survive.”
What followed was a 14 week stay at PMH Hospital’s Burns unit where Ella received constant treatment, including surgery to apply spray skin twice within the first week to her chin and abdomen. Following that she needed constant care, including bandage changes every day – and it was only after three months in hospital that she was allowed to go home at the weekend, before needing to be back for the week. During that time, she had to wear a full body suit and a hat to cover her burnt face.
Now almost seven years old, Ella’s treatment continues. She has received ongoing laser treatment to her burns to help their flexibility and appearance, in addition to numerous surgeries.
“Ella will need ongoing treatment for years, which can be painful at times, but she is the most amazing little girl,” says Chelsea.
“Despite what has happened, we feel incredibly fortunate to have had the support of all the medical staff at PMH, particularly Fiona Wood and her team at the Burns unit.
“It’s fair to say the support has been endless and we have had complete trust in Fiona and her team. After every surgery, she has always discussed how the operation went with us in the friendship room; we have the utmost respect for her.
“As for Ella, she is totally amazing, her mantra in life is that you should always love someone for what’s on the inside, not the outside, and she tends to make friends very quickly with other kids who have disabilities.
“She is a true survivor, and when she grows up she says she wants to either be a teacher or an astronaut; we are just eternally grateful to PMH for giving her the chance to do either.”
Ella’s story was featured on Ten Eyewitness News recently. Watch it below.