• Keratilwe Mphafudi

When Lutendo Burnt Right Under My Nose




This is something I feel no parent or child should ever have to go through. This is a guilt I live with every single day even though I never say it out loud. My 1 year old son was burnt by water that has just been boiled right beside me and it is a day I will defintely never forget.


On the winter evening of 20 April 2017, I had just arrived back home from fetching my boys, Ronewa (4 years old) and Lutendo (16 months old), from daycare. I gave the two of them supper and right after that I took Lu out of his feeding chair. Due to Lu having a bad cold I was going to give him his meds. I boiled water in the kettle so I could sterilize the suringe to administer his med. 

Once the water was boiled, I poured about 300ml of the boiling water into a small bowl and I BLINKED! In a split second, Lu had snuck in betwwen myself and the cupboard and pulled the bowl with his tiny hand. I dont know if I should call it ignorance or if it was a "it will never happen to me" but i didnt know he could reach that high. He has always been my little baby and that thought had never ever crossed my mind.


Then, there was the loudest SCREAM I have ever heard come from his little body. For a seccond I though he had only burned his hand but something in me was like just check his body. There was no signs of burning then but in my panic state, I unzipped his jersey, picked him up and put him under cold running water in the kitchen. He just kept screamed non-stop. I phoned my sister and my husband but honestly I can't remeber what they said in that moment. I was starting to sob.

I remember picking up Lu and yelling at Ron to get into the car. I quickly strapped both of them into their carseats (Lu still screaming and me not even sure if strapping him was a great idea but I did it anyway). 


Just after driving out the house, there I was thinking to myself, "how am I going to let all other drivers on the road know I have an emergency and I need them to make way for me?" I put my hazards on and it didnt seem to help. They all drove super slow and my hazards went unnoticed. This was the longest drive of my life. Mind you, the hospital is about 8 minutes away from our house. Eventually we made it.


I parked right by the emergency door, got both the kids out the car and charged through those doors. I screamed to the staff "MY CHILD BURNT! MY CHILD BURNED!" Lu was still screaming and Ron just looked puzzled and like his usual self, kept asking me questions to try and get clarity of the situation but I could'nt answer him in that moment.


Lucky the staff did'nt make us wait. They attended to Lu immediately and a surgeon was by our side faster than you can jete across the stage. He was very polite and informative regarding the next steps that needed to be taken. Lu had 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face, neck and chest and would need to be in theatre first thing in the morning for a debridement and a synthetic skin grafting. How? It was such a small bowl of water I kept thinking to myself. There I was crying.

I called my mother-in-law still in tears so she could fetch Ron from the hospital as she lived 5 minutes away. Everyone kept asking me what happed and the more they asked, the more I cried. I made sure I was NOT going to cry around people and the kids but I just could'nt help it. I had burned my child.


Finally my mother-in-law arrived and took Ron with her and shortly after that my husband arrived and more questions. He was admitted int the paediatrics ward under isolation. The Dr didnt want to risk infection to Lu's burn wounds. It was a long night.

Eventually it was morning and Lu was wheeled to theatre. My baby is going to theatre! I had never been to theatre until I had our oldest son through an emergency c-section abd I was 26 years old and now my 1 year old was going to theatre. 

When he returned, it was like nothing had ever happed. He slept through for what felt like hours and when he woke up, he was the happiest baby I had ever seen. He played, he laughed, he was just his good old self.


He spent a week in isolation and eventually was cleared to be with other kids. Eventually we were given the green light to go home and from then onwards it a month long journey of hosptal admittions and discharges for theatre precedures several times a week, doctor visits and tons and tons of medications and heart breaking moments at home of wound cleaning and redressing.

Today I was going through some of the photos we took while in hospital and I just had to share this especially because everytime people see Lu's chest scar (3rd degree burn) they either pull their kids away like he has a disease, stare or ask questions and more questions. 

I think after writing this, it will be easier for me to talk about it to people.

I've learned that it can happen to anyone and I need to work towards forgiving myself. It's not going to happen by tomorrow but it will hapen.

Here are a few pics of our hospital journey.


Xxx Keratilwe M




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©2018 by Keratilwe Mphafudi