Doctors at a California hospital have begun what they say will be months of treatment for three youngsters who were badly injured in a fire that killed 42 infants and toddlers at a Mexican day care center.
The children were being treated Monday at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California. They were brought to Sacramento by Mexican authorities from Hermosillo, where the fire occurred.
A 3-year-old boy who suffered burns over about half his body was doing well Monday after four hours of skin graft surgery, said Dr. David Greenhalgh, the hospital's chief burn specialist.
A 3-year-old girl burned over more than 80 percent of her body remained in critical condition. A 2-year-old boy with burns on 20 percent of his body was in serious condition.
After they were treated for severe swelling that is typical of such injuries, all were expected to undergo a series of operations to receive skin grafts.
"You can imagine we have to take all the burns off down to live tissue, then find skin from another part of their body and cover those areas. When we're out of skin we will actually take skin from a skin bank and cover them temporarily," Greenhalgh said. "It's a long process for their whole stay."
He said children typically stay in the hospital about one day for every percentage of burn on their bodies.
"If you can imagine, you lose the main barrier to infection by losing your skin," Greenhalgh said. "Then we're constantly fighting sepsis infections, so you have to constantly monitor that."
'Praying for a miracle'
The fire at the ABC day care center killed 42 children and injured dozens more.
Shriners officials were waiting to hear whether Mexican officials planned to send any more victims of the fire to the hospital. Greenhalgh said the intensive care unit could probably take up to three more children.
The children were being assessed based on their likelihood of survival; the most seriously injured of those considered likely to live could be sent.
The girl's father was with her at the hospital on Sunday, where he talked with a group of about 10 people from a Pentecostal church in south Sacramento.
The parishioners from El Sendero De La Cruz church came to offer support to the families, church member Claudia Pagan said.
The group stood in a circle as church member Lazaro Esparza led a spirited prayer in Spanish in the hospital lobby.
"We were praying for a miracle. We believe that God can do anything," Pagan said.