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SALT LAKE CITY — An 8-year-old Idaho girl underwent surgery at the University of Utah Hospital after a candle caught her shirt on fire over the weekend, leaving her with severe burns.
Aaliyah Shepard will likely need several additional surgeries in the short-term and long-term for the burns on her torso, arms and the back of her head, according to mother Tia Simmons.
“Today they were trying to remove all of the skin and trying to put on cadaver skin,” Simmons said on Tuesday.
Simmons said her daughter was in another room in their house Saturday when the accident happened.
“She got too close to the candle and her whole shirt caught on fire, and it just engulfed her in flames,” she said.
According to Simmons, the sequined shirt burned up in under 15 seconds and it was unclear why that happened so quickly.
The mother questioned if the sequins played a role.
“For this to happen with just a home candle and not even playing with it or anything like that, people really need to be aware,” Simmons said.
Shepard was flown to the hospital in Salt Lake City Saturday, and her mother said her stay could be as long as one month.
“That’s the worst thing about this is Christmas is Aaliyah’s favorite time of the year,” Simmons said.
Simmons said the ordeal has been extremely trying.
“On the inside, I’m crushed and torn and trying to hold it all together,” Simmons said. “On the outside I have to make it look like nothing’s wrong.”
She said her daughter has an amazing spirit and heart and that she is determined to battle through her recovery.
For this to happen with just a home candle and not even playing with it or anything like that, people really need to be aware.
“I know she’s going to pull through — she’s a fighter,” Simmons said. “She’s going to fight her way to the top.”
In the meantime, Simmons said her daughter hoped people would send Christmas cards to her at the hospital.
The family also set up a GoFundMe* account to help with medical costs as well as expenses related to their unplanned extended stay in Utah.
Cards can be sent to:
C/O Customer Service
University of Utah Hospital
50 N. Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.