School girl who inspired medics with her courage after a horrific cot fire – then raised £202,000 for the hospital that saved her life.
Elizabeth was just six months old when she almost died in a cot fire, suffering life- changing, third degree burns over 60 per cent of her body.
Her family was living in Qatar, where dad Liam was working as an engineer, when a faulty air conditioner sparked a blaze, engulfing her room and cot. As Liam recalls: “Her mum went inside and the room was on fire. The cot was on fire. Elizabeth was on fire.”
As baby Elizabeth fought for her life – as well as burns she had lost most of her fingers, part of her nose and an ear – Qatari doctors said they didn’t have the expertise to save her. In a frantic race against time, she was flown to Britain and admitted to the specialist burns unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. “That first day, they were very clear with us that she might not survive,” Liam says.
Elizabeth spent weeks in a coma, followed by six months in intensive care, and has undergone more than 70 operations. She has grafts and reconstructive surgery every six months and needs regular physiotherapy to help ease her scars.
Last year, wanting to thank the medics who saved her life, Elizabeth undertook a charity challenge; running a mile a day for 26 days, including 73 laps of her garden during periods of isolation, raising £202,000. Despite everything she has gone through, Elizabeth refuses to feel sorry for herself, telling people: “It doesn’t matter what you look like, it just matters that you’re kind.” Mum Sinead adds that her daughter’s positivity and spirit is an inspiration to them all. “We’re always envisaging something that might be difficult for her, and she’ll totally prove us wrong every single time,” she says. “She’s amazing, she wows us every day and the fact she wants to help others is just so her. This award means the world to her – and us.”