Just a few years ago Maggie suffered severe burns to 30% of her torso when a paraffin heater exploded on her at home. *Lucky for her, she got the correct care and medical treatment after the accident.
Maggie Tlou’s Story
When you first meet Maggie and her family, there’s an air of positivity about them and you can see how important Maggie is to her two sons, Prince and Kevin, and her husband, Benny. Just a few years ago Maggie suffered severe burns when a paraffin heater exploded in front of her at her home. Lucky for her, she got the correct care and medical treatment after the accident.
It had been a particularly cold winter and load shedding was at its peak. On that fateful day of the 31st of May 2017, Maggie didn’t want her family to be in the dark and cold so when she saw a paraffin heater on sale she bought it. Back at home, near Brits, Maggie excitedly lit up the paraffin heater as her kids looked on. Suddenly, the paraffin heater exploded and within seconds flames engulfed Maggie’s face and neck. Her two sons were standing close by and, thinking quick, Maggie told her kids to get as far away from her as possible. She tried to run to the bathroom but kept falling as she could not see past the flames. Her disabled cousin, Thabo, tried his best to help Maggie but it was her two sons who bravely guided her towards the bathroom, after having just switched the shower on. With their help she was able to put the flames out.
One of her neighbours came running into the house to help. Seeing what had happened they stripped her clothes off and phoned her husband to tell him to get home. They called an ambulance, but it took too long to arrive, so her neighbour transported her to meet the ambulance half way. From there, she was rushed to Brits Hospital.
After spending the night in Brits where they incubated, scrubbed and applied a burnshield to the fresh wounds, they found that she had sustained 3rd degree burns to more than 30% of her torso. Maggie was airlifted to Klerksdorp Hospital on the 1st of June where she stayed for two months, undergoing three different operations.
There wasn’t any real improvement in her health at Klerksdorp, so she was transferred to Dr George Mukhari Hospital. And after one week there, she started gaining back her strength and her healing journey began. Thanks to the trained burn specialists who had the right expertise to administer the correct care, Maggie got more than just her life back. She regained mobility in her neck and arms which has given her the chance to carry on being a mom, and to live her life to the fullest.
Through many months of counselling, treatments and follow ups with her doctors, Maggie has gained self-acceptance – something she struggled with for a long time. Armed with a confidence and fearlessness, she shares her story with other burn survivors, passing on a little bit of strength to them each time. She frequently goes to hospitals, clinics and treatment centres to offer help and counsel other survivors.
Despite everything she’s gone through, Maggie aims to fulfil her dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. All the while spending quality time with her two beautiful children and husband, she dreams of seeing her kids grow into men that will make a change in the world.
None of this would have been possible if she hadn’t received the correct care, the care that most burn victims don’t get due to the lack of trained burn specialists in South Africa. Maggie truly is one of the lucky ones.
Improving the lives of those affected by burn injury through patient care, education, research and advocacy.
The South African Burn Society is dedicated to the prevention of burn injury, the promotion of comprehensive burn care through education and the development of research in the field.