Adrianna back home after miraculous recovery from severe burns
Adrianna Laing, 13, managed to put on a smile after spending more than six months in the United States of America where she was treated for severe burns received on 90 per cent of her body during a fire at her home in Westmoreland, last September. Among those who met her Thursday on her arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston are (from left) her father Adrian Laing; Sanmerna Foundation Project Manager Stephen Josephs; director of Sanmerna Foundation Robert White, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Sanmerna Foundation's collaboration with the Government of Jamaica and key stakeholders in the Diaspora has enabled the miraculous return home of 13-year-old burn victim Adrianna Laing who was able to smile Thursday despite having a near-death experience.

Adrianna, who lost her three brothers in a massive fire at their home in Westmoreland on September 4 last year, was airlifted to the United States of America in less than 24 hours after being severely burnt in the blaze. While having to deal with her own personal pain coming out of the incident, having received burns to more than 90 per cent of her body, Adrianna was forced to mourn the death of her brothers, five-year-old twins Jayden and Jorden Laing, and eight-year-old Adrianna Laing.

In the US, Adrianna underwent more than two dozen surgeries which were crucial to her survival. Two hospitals in the US that were instrumental in keeping her alive were the Joseph M Still (JMS) Burn Center and Shriners Children's hospital, the latter helping her with therapy and assisting her with prosthetics.

At the VIP lounge, Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Thursday, a special welcome home ceremony was held for Adrianna to honour her for the strength she displayed throughout her ordeal.

Stephen Josephs, projects manager of the Sanmerna Foundation, the entity that took the lead on the mission to keep Adrianna alive, said her survival was truly a miracle. According to Josephs, it was a daunting task to fly her out of Jamaica to the US.

"Adrianna is a miracle. When we got the medical report we called three air ambulances and none of them were willing to take her. I called Trinity Airlines and they were willing to take the journey with her. I managed to jump on the flight with her."

What ensued during the trip to the US were nervous moments, according to Josephs.

"The skin is the largest organ of the body and it was hard to keep her temperature stable. It was a breathtaking flight. When we got to the Joseph M Still Burn Center, there were 13 doctors waiting on us. They brought around 50 documents to sign and they asked if I understand what I was signing and I said yes. I was eager to see her live. She is really a miracle because she was not supposed to be here today. We thank God for giving her that chance. Purpose cannot die," he said.

Josephs was given the full support of Sanmerna directors Robert and Mark White throughout the journey with Adrianna.

Adrianna's father, Adrian, who was in the US by her side supporting her, told the Jamaica Observer that it was a wonderful feeling to be back on Jamaican soil with his daughter alive.

"The whole world knows I lost three sons in the fire. I am still in shock and mourning for them, but my daughter is still alive and she gave me hope. God is on our side and the whole Diaspora is on our side. I am happy she is alive. She is still going to need help because she has to go back to the Shriners hospital in August for more surgeries. We need everybody to come on board and give the support we need," he appealed.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson-Smith thanked God and all the people in Jamaica and the Diaspora who gave their contribution towards saving Adrianna.

"I want to take the opportunity to thank Robert White, Stephen Josephs, and Mark White of Sanmerna. I want to thank Moreland Wilson, Member of Parliament of Western Westmoreland. I want to thank Mrs Alsion Wilson, our consul general in New York. I want to thank Miss Rollins, who is part of the Rose Town Foundation, and I want to thank the Atlanta-Jamaica Association, which is another group of people who said they wanted to help and did."

Jamaica's Consul General to Miami Oliver Mair was very instrumental throughout Adrianna's recovery journey as well.

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter

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