Girl who sustained serious burns to rescue her mother hopeful of healing

Irene Mumbi 18, she sustained burns while saving her disabled mother and a child from a burning house at Blue Valley Estate in Nyeri five months ago. [Kibata Kihu/Standard]
A girl who sustained serious burns when she saved her disabled mother and a neighbour’s child from a fire is hopeful of living her dream to become an evangelist.

Irene Mumbi’s hopes were restored last week after well-wishers organised for her admission to Tenri Embu Children's Hospital, where she will undergo skin grafting.

The teenager had been devastated after she was discharged from hospital and stayed home for three months, during which her wounds got infected.

18 per cent burns

The Form Three student at Temple Road Secondary School had sustained 18 per cent burns on her lower legs, arms, chest and face. Her legs were the most affected, with third degree burns.

Her face was also burnt and scarred, a stark reminder of her heroism and the harrowing incident that could have claimed her life.

On June 6, a neighbour in Nyeri’s Blue Valley estate discovered a gas leak and sought Mumbi’s help. The eighteen-year-old, who had just finished her chores, advised the neighbour to replace the gas burner. She went back to their rented room to watch TV and cook until her mother, Ann Wangechi, arrived at around 7pm.

“I heard a loud explosion from the neighbour’s house and instinctively knew it was fire. I dragged my mum outside then dashed back to the house to collect her crutches. I tried to switch off our gas but my clothes caught fire. I sustained burns on the face and the chest,” she narrated.

As she left the house, she heard a child crying in the next house. She burst into that house and grabbed the burning child. In the process, her legs got badly burnt and she collapsed. However, she still managed to drag herself and the child out of the house.

Mumbi and the six-year-old boy were admitted to the intensive care unit at the Nyeri Level Five hospital for over a week. The boy later succumbed to his injuries.

Mumbi was then moved to the general ward, where she was admitted for three months. She was discharged but still got outpatient treatment. She was supposed to be going for dressing after every three days.

Mumbi said she only went for one dressing before the treatment was stopped. She sought dressing in two other hospitals.

“I was not getting well and was stressed. I even developed ulcers. I had been in a lot of pain everyday. I am now hopeful the wounds will heal and I’ll successfully undergo the skin grafts,” she told journalists who paid her a visit at the Tenri Hospital.

Tenri medical superintendent George Kimani said the third degree burns on Mumbi’s lower limbs were infected. He said the wounds would be dressed for a week with the hope that the infection would clear.

“She may undergo two or three sessions of skin grafting, each costing between Sh100,000 and Sh150,000,” said Dr Kimani. Daily bed charges are about Sh10,000.

Mumbi’s mother has since closed her small stall to take care of her daughter, leaving the family with no source of income. Mumbi has one sister.

The teen, who is in the praise and worship team at Nyeri Baptist Church, does not regret her heroic deeds and believes God sent her to rescue her mother. “I pray to God to heal me so that next year I can resume school and achieve my life dreams,” she said.

Mumbi can be assisted through M-Pesa Paybill No. 129738: Account No. IRENE.

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Irene Mumbiburns