The piercing screams of a two-year-old Emirati girl who was badly burned when a pressure cooker exploded as she was in the kitchen playing could be heard from miles away, family and friends said.
Her grandfather, Obaid Al Mughanni, quickly wrapped her in a towel and rushed to the nearest hospital in the small town of Dibba Al Hosn, Sharjah; however, the hospital caring for the girl, Sheikha, did not have a burn unit and could only offer the basics.
“For five days, the hospital contacted every other hospital in the UAE and just received excuses,” he said. “Mostly that they didn’t have any available beds.”
Mr Al Mughanni's appealed to the country's leaders via social media to have her moved to a hospital equipped to care for her injuries.
An hour after his video was posted on social media, Sheikha and her Ethiopian nanny, Zubaida Abdul Malek, also injured in the incident, were transported by an air ambulance to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City where they remained for one day before again being transported to Mafraq hospital.
The accident happened on Tuesday 22 May at 1.30pm , and Obaid’s daughter, Sheikha’s aunt, was preparing Iftar for the family.
“When my daughter got up to check on Sheikha in the kitchen, she saw the cover of the pressure cooker detach and steam and boiling water splattering all over the nanny and Sheikha. The water splattered all over Sheikha’s body and face.
The little girl's screams woke Mr Al Mughanni from his nap and what he saw was an image he "will never forget".
“I saw my son (Sheikha’s father) and my daughter carry Sheikha to the sink, frantically trying to keep her under cold running water while she screamed in pain.
"It looked like Sheikha’s flesh had melted,” he said distressed. “I can’t forget how she looked.”
Dr Muqdad Eisa Al Hammadi, acting deputy chief medical officer of Mafraq Hospital and consultant of plastic, burns and hands surgery, told the Arabic media that Sheikha had second degree burns on 45 per cent of her body. Children who have burns on more than 10 per cent of their body are considered to be in a critical condition.
Sheikha is currently in a stable condition, however, Dr Al Hammadi said. She is covered in bandages and doctors expect her to be well enough to leave the hospital in around two weeks, but recovery could take anywhere between three to six months.
Ms Malek sustained burns on her legs and lower part of her body and is also being treated at the same hospital.
Sheikha’s parents are divorced. At the time of the accident, her mother was in Egypt.
“Sheikha is a happy baby who is always cheerful and laughing. Seeing her now, crying in pain and discomfort is unbearable. Those burns burned our baby and our hearts,” Mr Al Mughanni said.