Burns: How wheatgrass saved a life

Impoverished Indian child recovers from extensive burns

A tiny hovel on the outskirts of a dusty provincial town in Madhyar Pradesh State in India is home to an impoverished family of six. Dirt floors, no sanitation, no beds (they sleep on the floor) and no electricity. Sun-baked cow dung seals the cracks in the paper thin walls. On a kerosene cooker, a kettle boils.

Five year old Pawan runs into the room and knocks over the cooker which explodes, drenching him in flames. He suffers severe burns to 40% of his body and is rushed to the Burns Unit at a large private hospital nearby. Pawan is lucky because they admit a limited number of impoverished burns victims, free of charge.

But there is a catch.

The burns must be healed sufficiently within a week, (an impossible task in most cases), or the patient will be sent home where wound infection will likely bring his life to an end.

Also, being poor, follow up treatment is highly unlikely and unhygienic surroundings at home could threaten his survival. In fact, many of these burns victims don’t even make it to a hospital, and die at home.

The burn surgeon's assessment

I visited Pawan on day 4, His entire buttock region had been badly burnt. The whole area glistened under the ceiling light, a sign the entire wound was infected. Because of this, a skin graft, which is the only thing that will save him, is impossible.

The boy is going to die.

"Do you think the wheatgrass spray might help?" asks the surgeon. "He must be discharged in three days, because the family has no more money.”

Having seen wheatgrass heal many nasty burns, I told her I thougth it was possible.

So, at the surgeon’s request, I sprayed just one small corner of the wound. The boy winced a little and a few minutes later said it wasn't painful any more, but didn't want any more spraying.

An amazing outcome

The next day, the surgeon contacted me to say that overnight the infection had completely disappeared. The wound surface had dried and was no longer exuding fluid. A skin graft would  not now be necessary!

The boy's burns recovered so well that he was discharged several days later to be reviewed at the Outpatient Department.

I think it is fair to say that wheatgrass saved this young boy's life.

The following video tells the story.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

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