Music, words of encouragement in teen burn victim's hospital room
Thirteen-year-old Adrianna Laing (back left), who has been hospitalised after a fire that claimed the lives of her three younger brothers — seven-year-old Jayden Laing and his twin Jorden, as well as eight-year-old Adrianno Laing (back right) —poses with the three siblings in earlier times.

MUSIC, written words of encouragement, and a video from friends and staff at her school are some of the things lifting the spirit of 13-year-old Adrianna Laing who is in a hospital room in Georgia, United States.She has undergone nine successful surgeries after being severely burnt in a house fire that left her three younger brothers dead. Caregivers know how important it is for the young girl to keep her spirit up and so they have made an effort to have her hospital room feel like a little piece of Jamaica.

"The hospital staff must be commended," said Stephen Josephs, project manager of Sanmerna Foundation, which was instrumental in arranging medical treatment for the teenager. "Jamaican music is playing in the room and everybody knows that Adrianna is there. So it is like she is with family away from family."

The foundation put together the music catalogue, a blend of gospel and other genres that Adrianna enjoys.

If she is feeling discouraged, there is a plaque with uplifting words beside her bed.

It says, "Don't look to the bigness of your need, look to the bigness of your God! If you keep your eyes on your circumstances, your circumstances will defeat you. Your victory is keeping your eyes on the bigness of your God and his ability. He has promised to take you step by step by step... Not all at once but step by step. Each step will be a miracle!"

Then there's the video, full of expressions of love and encouragement from her friends and teachers at Maggotty High School in St Elizabeth. They tell her they cannot wait to have her back with them.

There has also been a tremendous amount of support from churches in Atlanta, Georgia, whose members have been sending their best wishes and visiting the young girl in hospital, Josephs said.

Four days after the September 4 fire in Springfield, Westmoreland, Adrianna was flown to the US for treatment. She is being cared for at the Joseph M Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital of Augusta – the largest burn centre in the US – under the leadership of Dr Zaheed Hassan.

Josephs said she is stable condition and putting up a strong fight for recovery.

"She still has a long road ahead of her. I cannot say how many more surgeries are left, but I know that she got 75 per cent burn of which 90 per cent skin graft was completed," he told the Observer last Thursday.

It is expected that her father, Adrian Laing, will join her soon. He has successfully applied for a passport and is now applying for a visa to travel to the US. If the visa is granted, he will likely leave soon after the October 7 autopsy on his sons, seven-year-old twin brothers Jorden and Jayden and their eight-year-old brother Adrianno.

According to the police, 48-year-old Adrian Laing was at home with his four children when he lit a candle after a power outage in the community. The music selector, popularly known as DJ Bones, later went outside and shortly after the house was engulfed in flames. Efforts were made to rescue the children, however, only Adrianna was saved due to the magnitude of the blaze, according to the police report.

When the Negril and Savanna-la-Mar fire brigades were doing cooling down operations, the charred remains of the three brothers were seen in the burnt-out shell of the five-room house. They were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Anthony Lewis

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