On the evening of December 10, 2011, 10-year-old Dani was upstairs in her room lighting incense with matches when she caught her hair on fire. Her screaming brought her mom to her room immediately. Flames were coming off of her head and right shoulder. When Dani’s father reached the top of the stairs, he grabbed a blanket to put out the flames. Dani’s fingers and right ear were completely black and everything smelled of smoke and burnt hair and skin. When the EMTs and ambulance arrived, Dani was rushed to the local hospital in Audubon.
Once at the hospital, she was placed on IV and had a urinary cath installed. Dani and her mother were then life-lined by helicopter to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Once she arrived, she was put into hydrotherapy where the nurses and doctors scrubbed her down, put SSD ointment on her and wrapped her up in dressings. This is an incredibly painful experience, which caused Dani to scream in pain throughout the entire process.
The first 24 hours was the most crucial to making sure everything would go well for Dani. When told she would have to shave her head in order to have surgery to repair her burned skin, she cried. Tina, Dani’s mother offered to have her head shaved at the same time so Dani wasn’t the only one going through this.
Dani underwent a 4.5 hour surgery that took skin grafts from her legs to repair her burned skin around her face and hands. After more bouts of painful hydrotherapy treatments and a few more weeks at the hospital, Dani was finally able to go home and she returned to school right after Christmas break.
Dani goes to physical therapy in Harlan three times per week and has been outfitted with a head garment to help reduce the scarring and smooth the skin around her neck. Since her accident, Dani has done presentations to her school about burns and shared her story to help other kids understand what she is going through.