18 Oct 2020 4:32 pm
After coming home from boarding school for Christmas with head lice, Aleema Ali turned to a medicated shampoo to get rid of them. But while she waited the recommended five minutes for the solution to work, she went to take the garbage out in the kitchen. Her mom was cooking at the time and neither of them realized that the stuff on Aleema’s hair was extremely flammable. As the then 12-year-old walked past the cooker, her hair caught fire and her head was quickly engulfed in flames.
She was rushed to hospital and taken to intensive care where she had to be placed in a coma for two months. Describing the terrifying accident, Aleema said: ‘I had caught head lice and I asked my mom to take them out for me. That same night, she put the medication onto my hair and then went to the kitchen to make food. ‘I went to the kitchen to get to the bin and whilst I was walking past, my hair caught fire as the medicine was extremely flammable. ‘I panicked and went to a state of shock and the only thing I could think was, “I’m going to die.” ‘I was in a coma for two months so there was no immediate reaction. They slowly built up the amount of time I was awake.’ Aleema suffered third-degree burns on 55% of her body including her face, head, arms, chest, thighs, stomach, back and hands. She also lost seven fingers and is currently only able to move two of her remaining fingers She has had many skin graft surgeries and has had to wear specialised garments to help her skin heal, as well as a daily medication regime to help her body deal with the damage.
She said: ‘My recovery was extremely difficult and it is still ongoing. Every day, I have to do nebulisers, humidifiers, pressure garments, splits, creams, medication and much a more. ‘I’ve had hundreds of surgeries before and will hopefully have more in the future.