The community has rallied to support a young local boy who was severely burned in an accident last month.
On April 13, 13-year-old Luke Mann of Conestogo had a grand mal seizure while preparing to take a shower. He fell into the bathtub while adjusting the temperature, causing the tap to turn to full heat, suffering severe burns to 28 per cent of his upper torso.
He was promptly transferred to the intensive care unit at Sick Kids in Toronto. His mother, Monica Mann, is taking time off work as a nurse to care for her son.
“He is the strongest, bravest kid I’ve ever met in my life,” said Monica, in a phone interview from the hospital. “He amazes me every day we’ve been here. He doesn’t complain … he just rides through this and keeps trying to push himself, trying his best to get out of bed and get walking – it’s just amazing.”
Family, friends, and strangers have all contributed to supporting Luke in an online fundraiser, which raised more $15,000 in just five days.
“We have an amazing community. The support has been incredible,” said Monica. “They are dropping off meals at my house, people have donated. I’m overwhelmed with the kindness and support. I’m just in awe of our people.”
A friend of the family, Wendy Forler, started the fundraiser. She chose the specific goal of $25,000 to have enough money to purchase a service dog for Luke.
“When I started a GoFundMe page, I originally thought, ‘oh my goodness – his mom is going to be off work for several months, and that takes a toll on a family’s finances.’ That’s what hit me first,” said Forler.
“Then I found out that they were hoping eventually to get him a service dog – they are quite expensive to get. That was the amount of money I was trying to get people to give, to get him a service dog.”
A seizure-response dog is trained to assist or help its owner during and/or after a seizure occurs. Tasks can include but are not limited to finding someone to help, activate an emergency response system, physically remove the patient from an unsafe situation, retrieve a phone or medication, and acting as a brace to help the person up.
A seizure-alert dog is trained to demonstrate specific behaviour before a seizure occurs. The Woolwich Community Lions, whose organization trains such dogs, has been in contact with the Mann family. Monica said a service dog would help prevent an injury like this from ever happening again.
“This time, because we didn’t know he was having [a seizure], he was in the bathtub with the hot water,” said Monica. “So if a service dog had been there, it would have been in the room with him and barked as soon as he started the seizure, and we would have got there quicker.”
Staff at the SickKids hospital told Monica to expect to stay in the hospital one day for every one per cent of burn. He spent 12 days in the intensive care unit before being transferred to the burn unit.
Full recovery will involve long-term physiotherapy and regular visits back to SickKids once he is discharged.
“They want them to be active because if they’re not, the scarring can decrease their mobility in the long run,” said Monica. “They told me [Friday] ‘if he played hockey, back to hockey. If he played soccer, back to soccer.’ And for the first six months, no sunshine. They wouldn’t even let the sunshine through the window yesterday.”
Luke has a condition called refractory epilepsy, which means medicines don’t work well, or at all, to control seizures.
“What’s always impressed me with Luke is how caring he is for other people,” said Forler. “That is part of the reason why I wanted to reach out and help him. Because that, to me, is part of Luke. Luke is always so kind and generous and wanting to help people. He’s an old soul in a young body.”
The GoFundMe can be accessed online and get-well cards can be sent to Sick Kids Hospital at 555 University Ave. in Toronto.