Irish News

Thursday 24 July 2014

‘Her hair was on fire’ – Irish baby suffers horrific injuries in 'air-con fire' in Qatar

Brian O'Reilly

Published 17/06/2014|08:24

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Elizabeth Soffe

AN Irish baby is fighting for life after suffering horrific injuries in a fire in Qatar.

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Six-month-old Elizabeth Soffe suffered burns to 60pc of her body in the blaze, which is suspected to have been started by an air-conditioning unit.

Elizabeth, whose family are from Dublin, was just put down for a nap by her mother Sinead.

Her 35-year-old mother then heard her crying over the baby monitor, and then discovered the fire in her daughter’s room.

“Elizabeth never cries really, so Sinead went straight back up as soon as she heard her”, Elizabeth’s dad Liam told The Irish Daily Mail.

“When she got to the top of  the stairs, the door of the bedroom was open a little bit and there was black smoke coming out the top.”

When Sinead opened the door, huge plumes of black smoke came out of the room.

“There were flames on Elizabeth, on her head and her chest.”

Sinead put out the flames on her young daughter, before rushing downstairs and calling an ambulance.

She is now battling for life in a specialist burns unit in Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“Her hair was on fire, her stomach – the only thing that wasn't burned on her front was where her nappy was. She’ll lose at least some of her fingers, an ear, but we’re hoping she’ll keep her eyesight”, Liam said.

Medics in Doha, where the couple have lived for three years, were able to stabilise Elizabeth but advised the family she would need to be moved to a specialised burns unit abroad.

The family believe that the fire was started by a faulty air-conditioning unit.

Elizabeth has already undergone three major operations, all lasting at least eight hours each.

The couple’s three other young children are staying with family in Dublin.

“They’re still using various techniques to cover up her burns, donor skin from other people, synthetic skin and grafts from her own skin.” 

“Until that is done there is significant risk of infection, and with all the tubes going in and out there is a risk of sepsis, so while she is fighting extremely hard – she’s not out of the woods yet.

“But we do know she’s not in the best possible place, getting the best possible care.”

The family have lost virtually all their possessions in the fire.

Friends have set up an online fundraising campaign to cover the costs of Elizabeth’s treatment.

Donations can be made by clicking here.

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