AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Friday, a young girl from Jamaica is released from the world-class Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.
It’s been two months since fourteen year-old Ackalia Dunkley was air-lifted to the burn center on June 21st.
Just days before, doctors say a stove explosion left her with second degree burns covering more than 50 percent of her body.
“It was hard, but it was great,” said Ackalia. “Because I have the nurses. They’re nice.”
The SanMerna Foundation in Kingston, Jamaica raised 45 thousand dollars to get Ackalia to the burn center, which is the largest in the U.S.
After two months of in-patient treatment, Ackalia’s mother says the moment is bittersweet.
“She’ll be going back to Jamaica and it might take me a while to see her again,” said Shermena Brown-Brady, Ackalia’s mother. “But we have the bond and we will still keep the bond.”
Dr. Richard Cartie, Director of Pediatric Critical Care Services at the JMS Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, says the majority of Ackalia’s burns have been treated.
And while recovery and additional surgeries are still ahead, he expects Ackalia’s in-patient services to be a thing of the past.
“My rule is always: come back and visit, don’t come back and stay,” said Dr. Cartie.
Ackalia tells us she looks forward to eating her favorite Jamaican dish: ackee saltfish with fried dumplings.
And something she learned over the past few weeks…
“I learned that I should never give up and that I should be strong,” said Ackalia.
Ackalia’s mother tells us she continues to be comforted by the generosity of the hospital staff.
“I came here and what I saw,” said Ackalia’s mother. “And for her to be going home now, it has to be God. She’s a strong child.”
“Being far away from home is never easy for any patient, much less a teenager,” said Dr. Cartie. “And that’s been one of the challenges for her that she’s had to overcome and not even being on the same continent where all of her friends and her people.”
Doctors, nurses and hospital staff lined the halls for Ackalia’s celebratory send-off.
“I’m happy,” said Ackalia. “I’m happy.”