WARNING: THIS ARTICLE INCLUDES CONTENT THAT SOME READERS MIGHT FIND DISTURBING.
Izabella Reaume, aged 6, from Toledo, is left with severe burn scars across her face, which are stretched from ear to ear; playing around with a bottle of hand sanitizer proved fatal for the child.
The little girl was rushed to the hospital, where medics battled to save her life. Now, Izabella has to wear a pressure garment across her face for 23 hours a day.
Mother Larrissa Schaffenberg, 29, hopes to warn other parents about the hazards of carelessly leaving hand sanitizers anywhere in homes.
Izabella was playing outside with her cousin and a friend, watched by a nanny after Larrissa went to work.
However, merely within 45 minutes of leaving for work, Larrissa received the grave news via a phone call, asking her to get to the hospital quickly.
The hand sanitizer was set up in flames after one of the kids Izabella was playing with brought a lighter and flicked the switch.
“I had not even been at work 45 minutes and my phone started to ring, I answered and the babysitter told me that my six-year-old baby girl had been burnt,” said Larrissa, a mom of three who is a deli worker.
“My heart sank and I began to panic, I left work right away and made my way to meet them at the hospital.”
“When we arrived at the hospital, I carried her in my arms. When I saw what had happened to her face I was devastated. My beautiful baby girl, how could this have happened to her?” she said.
Larrissa said her daughter had been playing out in the front garden, with her big brother, her cousin, and one of the neighbor’s kids as usual when the unfortunate incident occurred.
“They were messing around with some hand sanitizer that had been laying around because we were using it all the time to protect against COVID-19,” the mom said.
“They were playing around and squirting it about, and some was squirted on to the front porch ledge. One of the neighbor’s kid had a lighter and lit it. It set ablaze and caught Izabella’s face,” she added.
On arrival at the hospital, doctors dressed little Izabella’s wounds, administered medication to numb the immense pain, and cleaned up all of the burns. The girl spent the night in the hospital.
Larrissa said that after leaving the hospital, she had to clean her daughter’s burns two times a day before removing and reapplying the gauze. In August, Izabella was given a pressure garment, which she has to wear on her face for almost the entire day.
Larrissa said Izabella might have to wear the pressure garment for the next couple of years.
“The pressure garment is hopefully going to help press and flatten Izabella’s scars so that her face heals as best it can,” Larrissa said. “[I]t just depends on how quickly her little body repairs.”
“She does not need any skin grafts which is lucky. Her scars have come a long way so far, they have now all closed up. In the beginning, they were open and constantly seeping.”
Larrissa said it was only three months after the terrifying accident that Izabella was able to look at herself in the mirror for the first time. Her young daughter was too scared of looking at her burn scars.
“It is heartbreaking, my little girl thinks she is ugly now,” the mom said. “I have to tell her every day that she is beautiful and that you do not have to look the same as everyone else to be gorgeous, but a lot of the time she does not believe me.”
“Some days are better than others, one day she will try and ignore the scars, and the next day she will be extremely upset and thinking that she is hideous again,” she said.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions, Izabella attends an online schooling routine, which allows her the room to turn her camera off so her classmates cannot see her. The mom said her little daughter is worried about being bullied about her scars.
“I am just so shocked that hand sanitizer could cause such damage,” Larrissa said. “I did not know it could blow up like that. It has been so traumatic for Izabella, I feel terrible that this has happened to her.”
“She has shown she is such a strong little girl and I know that she will be okay in the end, as time goes on things are getting a little easier,” she added.
The Caters News Agency contributed to this report.