Boy Loses his Fingers in Fire

James Warki is a one-and-a-half-year-old boy who will never use his left arm and fingers again. Sadly, they were all burnt beyond recognition when he was a toddler.

Little James, from Bitam village in Dei District, Western Highlands met his fate when he was only five months old. Surprisingly he slipped out of his bilum where he was put to sleep inside the family home and rolled into the fire and burnt his hands and face.

According to his mother Serah, two other slightly bigger children had slept beside him when she left them to go and fetch water but these two children had never noticed baby James rolling out of the bilum and into the fire until it was too late.

The incident occurred on the night of 4th January 2014 at about 8pm and the toddler was taken to the nearby Kotna Health Centre where he was treated for severe burns before being sent to Mt Hagen Hospital for specialist treatment and attention.

The sad story about James is that he did not only lose his fingers but the left side of his face and chin were also severely burnt together with his left shoulder that the chin and shoulder could not be separated.

Doctors at Mt Hagen Hospital could not do much to separate the chin and shoulder and told the little boy and his parents to wait until the Australia and New Zealand Interplast team made its next visit to Mt Hagen.

James and his mother Serah spent the next nine months in hospital while his burns were slowly healing up until September last year when they were discharged and told to wait until the surgeons arrived to separate his chin and shoulder.

James was given a new lease of life on 11th February 2015 when the surgeons operated on him and separated his face from the shoulder, allowing him to look up and see things clearly for the first time.

Mother Serah said the separation of the two body parts was something she never thought would happen and has heaped praise on the surgeons for a job well done.

A happy little James and mother Serah at the surgical ward of Mt Hagen Hospital.
A happy little James and mother Serah at the surgical ward of Mt Hagen Hospital.