FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida:
SIX MONTHS after she was airlifted to the United States for specialised medical care, 13-year-old Adrianna Laing, who suffered life-threatening injuries in fire that killed her three siblings, was discharged from hospital on Tuesday.
Adrianna, who was accompanied by her father, Adrian Laing, and Stephen Josephs, of Sanmerna Foundation, which was instrumental in raising funds to fly her to the US, arrived at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport from Boston shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
The teen, who has been fitted with a prosthetic left leg, was able to walk unsupported.
“I feel happy,” said the smiling Adrianna. “I want to go home and see my family.”
The young girl suffered 50 per cent burns all over her body and had to undergo 26 surgeries at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
She was flown to Miami, Florida, from where she will make her way to Jamaica on Thursday.
Adrianna was greeted at the Florida airport by Olivier Mair, Jamaica’s consul general for southern United States.
After the formalities, she requested a meal of fried chicken and was promptly taken to the Jamaican restaurant Jerk Machine, where her palate was satisfied.
Adrianna was also the guest of honour at a dinner hosted by Mair on Tuesday evening and was quite excited to wear her princess dress.
While the young girl will have to return to the US within the next three months to undergo additional reconstructive surgery, she is looking forward to getting back to Jamaica, albeit to a sad reality as her brothers, nine-year-old Adrianno and seven-year-old twins Jorden and Jayden, had perished in the fire.
When Adrianna was flown out of Jamaica in early September 2022, her injuries were so severe that many persons doubted whether she would have survived.
In fact, on the flight to the US, the medical team had to be quite busy keeping her body moist to prevent her temperature from elevating to fatal levels.
Once her recovery began taking shape, the young girl’s spirits were lifted and she soon took on the role of comforter at the Boston hospital, where she met children from war-torn Ukraine, who had lost limbs and had suffered other injuries as Russian missiles rained down of the European country.
“She tried her best to comfort the Ukrainian children, especially a little boy who lost a leg, and his mother, who was constantly crying,” recalled Josephs.
Adrianna’s father got quite emotional when The Gleaner asked him to reflect on the journey and her recovery.
“I want to give thanks to God because He made it possible. I am so – words cannot even express it. I am emotional right now, but we are here, and we are grateful, Father,” said Adrian Laing.