Mother of toddler in ICU shocked at extent of his injuries from hot oil

Mother of toddler in ICU shocked at extent of his injuries from hot oil
PHOTO: Muhammad Al-Khair Salahuddin

During the month of Ramadan, the home becomes a place where many Muslims start and break their fast as a family. But for Madam Masshitah Abdullah, 31, it is now a place she wants to avoid at all costs.

The marketing manager said yesterday: "If I go back, it will remind me...."

Her voice trailed off before she added: "I'm not ready yet."

She was still visibly traumatised by the second-degree burns suffered by her 15-month-old son, Aafaa Zuhayr Muhammad Al-Khair, last Monday after he was scalded by hot oil in the kitchen of their flat.

The toddler is now hospitalised at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), where he had a fourth operation yesterday to clean up the bacteria in the wounds on his face.

Madam Masshitah and her husband, Mr Muhammad Al-Khair Salahuddin, 30, told The New Paper yesterday how their only child got injured.

Last Monday, Madam Masshitah was cooking in the kitchen when her son wandered in.

Unnoticed by her, the toddler accidentally tipped over a hot frying pan containing oil that his mother had left to cool down on the kitchen counter top.

She realised what had happened only when she heard the pan hit the floor, followed by Aafaa wailing in pain.

Sizzling oil had splashed on little Aafaa's face and also trickled down his body and arms.

DIDN'T KNOW

Mr Khair, a property agent with OrangeTee, said: "Our helper was supposed to keep the baby out of the kitchen. (My wife) did not know he was in the kitchen."

The little boy was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital before being transferred to KKH the same night. He is now in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Since then, the couple have made KKH their second home, returning to their flat in northern Singapore only to shower and change.

It was difficult at first to accept that the toddler with a swollen red face and whimpering in bed was her son, said Madam Masshitah.

"At first, I told the counsellor I couldn't believe that it's my son. I kept asking the doctor if that's my son," she said.

Mr Khair let on that his wife was emotionally unstable for the first few days after the accident.

"Every time she meets friends or relatives, she will cry before she says anything," he said.

He added that he has been messaging their well-meaning friends to offer positive words to his wife when they visit.

Said Madam Masshitah: "I just wanted my baby. I couldn't really hold him and could only see him from afar.

"I'm so afraid to fall asleep. Whenever a doctor runs into the ICU, my heart would stop for a while, wondering if anything had happened to my son."

Worried sick about her baby, she lost her will to eat, having nothing more than just a cup of Milo every day since the incident. Seeing how fragile his wife had become, Mr Khair knew he had to be the pillar of the family.

"Of course, I'm sad. But I have to be strong. So far, I've been holding it quite well," he said.

"Sometimes it feels like (the tears are) coming out, but I hold it back in."

He said that an in-house counsellor at the hospital told him that his wife could be slipping into depression.

"(The counsellor) told me to take care of her and monitor her, or she will be two weeks away from the first stage of depression," he said.

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