It was her worst nightmare but for Chanie Barnard from Pretoria, there’s light at the end of the tunnel now that her little boy Logan (5) is home from the hospital.
It’s been more than a month since the little boy sustained serious burns to his right arm, face and torso. He was kept in a medically induced coma for three weeks but has now been discharged from the Garden City Hospital in Johannesburg.
“Logan is still struggling to walk,” Chanie tells YOU. “If there’s no improvement within a week, he’ll have to see a physiotherapist for neurological therapy.”
We’re speaking on the phone as she and Logan are at a nearby shopping centre. The relief is clear in her voice.
“He’s very happy to be home and he’s a lot more comfortable here than in the hospital,” she says. “We’re at the shops now so he can get out for a bit and get a bit of fresh air. But he loves being home.”
Chanie doubts that Logan, a Grade RR pupil at Saamspan Primary School in Pretoria, will be returning to school this year. So she’s shopping for educational toys to stimulate him.
She recalls the incredible feeling when Logan finally woke up.
“I have goose bumps as I’m speaking to you. It’s unbelievable,” she says. “I can’t describe how it felt just to be able to hold him again.
“Logan reckons he was only in hospital for a few days because he was sedated the whole time. So he doesn’t understand all the excitement.”
Chanie and her husband, Chris, stayed with Chris’s sister in Midstream, Johannesburg, for the month Logan was hospitalised to they could be closer to him.
Once home, the Barnards finally had time to figure out what exactly happened the day of Logan’s accident. How did he get burned when the can of petrol, which was meant for the lawnmower, hadn’t been anywhere near the braai fire?
“We were getting ready for an afternoon braai,” Chanie recalls.
She’d been sitting next to the swimming pool while Logan and his sister, Mira (12), were running around and playing. Chris, an IT specialist, had been working on his laptop at the table.
“I suddenly felt heat and heard my child scream,” Chanie says. She saw Logan burning and smelled the petrol. She and Chris immediately put Logan in the swimming pool, before racing to the nearest hospital.
In the car on the way to the hospital he was crying and telling them his body hurt. “I comforted him and said, ‘Don’t worry, it was an accident. It’s OK, the doctor will make you better’,” Chanie recalls.
A month later, they finally got the story from Logan.
“We asked him how he got the petrol to the fire because it was really strange that the can was still in its place in the garage when he burned,” she says. “He answered that he’d fetched a bowl in the kitchen [filled it with petrol] and threw it on the fire.”
Mira also suffered trauma. “She’s seeing a psychologist. She couldn’t visit him in hospital and that was hectic for her but she’s OK now,” Chanie says. They video called her from Logan’s hospital room.
Chanie says when Logan’s a bit better physically, he’ll also see a psychologist.
“We were overwhelmed. We knew our friends and family would support us but the news spread so fast, we couldn’t keep up with all the messages and prayers for Logan.
“We got hundreds of messages every day – something we hadn’t expected.”