Abdul Rahman, who suffered third-degree burns after he opened an acid bottle kept at home, with his grandmother. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The father of a five-year-old boy, who sustained third-degree burns after accidentally pouring acid on himself, has cautioned parents against storing hazardous items at home even as he appeals for help for his son’s treatment.

Abdul Rahman was playing with his grandmother Misbah Parveen on May 7, 2017, when the mishap occurred. He was three then. “I went to the washroom. He was playing inside the house. In a few seconds he ran out and by the time I came out, he was screaming in pain,” Misbah recalled.

She said Abdul Rahman had got his hands on a bottle of toilet cleaning acid stored in an open cupboard outside the villa in Rashidiya where the Pakistani family lived those days.

“He might have thought it was water,” said his mother Iqra Imtiaz, who was then pregnant with her third child.

How it happened

Abdul Rahman spilled the acid on his hands while opening the bottle, she said. “We found him lying on the floor and crying. He might have dropped the bottle and slipped on the acid. Almost 75 per cent of his body — his back, hips, legs, arms and stomach were badly burnt. Luckily he had only minor burns on his face and chest.”

I didn’t know what to do. I poured water on him…I poured milk…I was out of my mind. He has to wear pressure garments to protect his skin. We have to get them imported from the US. One suit costs about Dh11,000.

- Mohammad Umar, Abdul Rahman’s father

His father Mohammad Umar, who had gone out to buy bread from a nearby grocery, rushed back hearing the screams of his nephews. “I didn’t know what to do. I poured water on him…I poured milk…I was out of my mind,” he said.

The boy was rushed to Latifa Hospital where he was diagnosed with third-degree burns.

“He was in the ICU for two days. He was discharged after two months of various treatment procedures,” Umar, who works as a purchase representative with a mechanical workshop for a salary of Dh6,000, said.

Three surgeries

Abdul Rahman underwent three surgeries between July 2018 and March 2019.

“His skin was always itchy and it would bleed if he scratched it. He had to wear pressure garments to protect his skin. We had to get those special garments imported from the US. One suit cost us about Dh11,000,” Umar said.

Abdul Rahman had to wear the pressure garment 24 hours a day except while bathing. “We could not use a suit for more than three months. He wore them for a year and I struggled to pay for them as we did not have insurance,” Umar said.

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Abdul Rahman poured acid on himself while playing on May 7, 2017.

“Now doctors say he has to wear it [pressure garment] for three more years at least on his hands and legs. I am on the verge of losing my job and cannot afford to buy these garments and also pay for his surgeries scheduled by mid-July. We are in need of help from kind-hearted people.”

Currently under the treatment of consultant plastic surgeon Dr Mohan Rangaswamy, Abdul Rahman is scheduled to undergo two more surgeries at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital for which the family requires a sum of around Dh80,000. This is apart from the money needed for the pressure garments.

Exorbitant cost

According to the cost estimate provided by the hospital, Dh30,000 is the estimated cost of surgery to remove a tissue expander, scar excision and advancement of expanded skin.

Another Dh47,000 is estimated for another surgery, which includes insertion of a new tissue expander.

“All these surgeries are essential for this growing child to improve function and prevent future deformity and are not cosmetic in nature,” the doctor said in his medical report.

Umar claimed his job is under threat and he cannot afford to pay for the surgeries and the pressure garments.

Warning for other parents

He wants his harrowing experience to serve as a warning for other parents not to keep hazardous items like acid at home, or within the reach of children. “The name acid itself scares us now. We should have been more careful. We request other parents to be careful and vigilant about children’s safety. I always pray that this shouldn’t happen to any other child and my son should be able to go to school and lead a normal child’s life,” Umar said.

First aid for burns

Dr Sanjay Saraf, consultant plastic surgeon at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, says children in the UAE usually get burns from hot milk, water or oil and infrequently from acid, fire or electric shock. No matter the source or cause, here are the dos and don’ts to be followed while giving first aid for burns.

  • Immediately move the child away from the source or cause of the burns.
  • Strip the child off any burning or sticky clothes.
  • Flush the affected area by pouring water on it for at least for 10 minutes or till paramedics arrive.
  • Make sure the water is neither hot nor too cold; it should be about 20-25 degrees Celsius.
  • If the burns are not minor, call the ambulance.
  • Loosely wrap the affected area with gauze or clean cotton cloth.
  • Move the child to a hospital with a specialised burns unit.
  • Do not use ice, turmeric or, toothpaste or milk as first aid.
  • Do not use cotton balls or synthetic material.
  • Do not wrap the affected area with a blanket.