On Thursday, June 23, science buff Barrett McKim was conducting an experiment to change the color of different rocks and fool’s gold, when the alcohol he was heating up on a Bunsen burner caused the apparatus to blow up.
Luckily, he was wearing safety goggles, but the explosion ignited the synthetic shirt he was wearing and then traveled the length of his body.
Barrett has second- and third-degree burns on his neck, torso, arms, hands and thighs – basically 50% of his body – which will require multiple surgeries involving skin grafts.
His mother, Caroline, tried to tear his shirt off as it was burning. She has second- and third-degree burns on her hands. They are both in residence and undergoing treatments at the burn center in Augusta, Ga.
Husband and father Kyle McKim tells their follow-up story:
“Going forward we are still looking at many more surgeries for Barrett. We have had five to this point. Each time is a debridement where they scrap off all the scabbing on the surface because we are learning that skin grows from the inside out. These are very painful surgeries for him.
“They have used several things that encourage skin growth including cadaver skin, xeroform (mesh gauze covered with petroleum jelly) and even true silver used as wraps and in liquid form as silver nitrate. The doctors still believe skin grafting will need to be done to certain portions of his body.
“They have amazing advancements in the burn specific medical field now. They will most likely take an area of skin from Barrett’s thigh, the portions where he was not burned, and they use something akin to a cheese grater to get it off, then they run it through a machine that expands and stretches it so that it may be used on a larger area of his body.
“They also do something called re-cell where they take another graft of his skin, add it to a solution and basically spray it back onto his body, all to encourage new cells to start growing and expanding.
“We are told the areas where they take the grafts from can be as painful or even more painful than the burn itself. After each graft he is immobile and restricted to his bed for 72 hours, to hopefully not disturb the graft and give it a better chance to attach.
“We are becoming all too aware that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon. Skin healing and re-growing is a very slow process that requires a lot of attention and time.
“They are also currently monitoring fungal or bacterial infections because he is basically a damp, warm, open wound bed on 50% of his body and that is where bacteria tend to thrive.
“Even after all of his skin is to a point where it is closed and nothing is left open, we will still have a lot of physical therapy to get through in order to get movement again in his arms, hands, fingers, and his neck.
“He will be in compression wraps for many months to protect his skin from the elements and promote growth. We will also be returning to the Burn center here in Augusta frequently for follow up visits and continual physical therapy.
“Caroline is doing very well and had a second surgery today, They are going to check her hands again next week but they are healing well, right hand will need a little more physical therapy to get movement back but they are optimistic that in 6 months or so she’ll be back to normal.
“We believe God has truly met us along the way, first with sparing Barrett’s life, to allowing our home to be within a short 45 minute helicopter ride of the best burn center in the nation, to having a truly wonderful head surgeon who has had decades of experience and wants nothing more than for our boy to heal correctly, to an amazing pediatrician who listens and anticipates, to a fabulous group of physical therapists who work to gain his interest, to a string of incredible nurses who have become friends and who have met us with every need, to a family who has incredibly stepped up and taken over at home and taken in our other children so that we may focus on Barrett, to the community and really the country at-large who have been blessing us with gifts, places to stay, food, time and most of all prayers that we know God is answering on a daily basis.”
A GoFundMe has been set up in the McKim name to collect donations to help the family financially while they work through Barrett and Caroline’s recovery, click HERE to donate.
Pictured at the top of the article is Barrett and his father Kyle.
By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper