How you can help bring little burns victim home
MATTHEW Russell and his family need your help - and Tammy Benecke knows this better than anyone.
Ms Benecke and members of the Yuleba community have stepped up to assist the Russell family after one-year-old Matthew was severely burned in a freak accident.
The infant, who is recovering in the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane with third-degree burns to 18% of his body, accidentally pulled down a pot of boiling water on himself on July 29 at his Yuleba home.
The pot was being used to sterilise his bottles on an electronic cooktop; the oven Matthew used to climb up on had not yet been installed.
"Cindy was boiling Matthew's bottles and when she came out, she had heard a noise but there was no crying," Ms Benecke said.
"She went back out and when she looked at his face, she said to me she can't get that picture out of her head of what he looked like.
"The LifeFlight crew told Cindy that if she hadn't kept him under cold water in the shower, he would've died - she saved his life."
Ms Benecke, who owns the Yuleba General Store and is a close friend of the Russells, said she barely held it together when she saw Matthew - the same boy who made her smile whenever the family came into the store.
"When we went down to see him at the hospital, I told myself I (wasn't) going to break down, but how could you not? I held it together, but not the whole time," she said.
"It hits you where it hurts - but he's definitely fighting and I think for Matthew, the hardest might be over."
On top of the multiple complications, including blood infections from transfusions, having to re-do skin grafts and nearly being killed after it was found he was allergic to morphine, the family are also struggling to pay bills and even feed themselves.
Ms Benecke said she along with others set up a GoFundMe campaign to not only keep the family going while no income was coming in, but to also pay for items and equipment Matthew will need when they return to Yuleba.
"They (Cindy and Tim) are amazing people and they've been sharing a toasted sandwich between themselves because they couldn't afford two of them," she said.
"I spoke to Cindy early this week and she was telling me about the financial situation and that maybe they would have to sell the car.
"There are urgent things the family must make happen before Matthew can return home - the burnt-through kitchen lino must be replaced and the permanent stove installed.
"Most importantly, a reverse-cycle air-conditioning unit will have to be purchased and installed as Matthew cannot be allowed to sweat in his body suit and Yuleba's summers are long and very hot."
To donate to the Russell's cause, go to www.gofundme.com/2kks245w.
Matthew's grandmother Nancy will also be running a cake stall on Thursday to raise extra funds.