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WNC boy severely burned in failed science experiment recovering in ICU

By Hannah Mackenzie

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Five weeks after a fiery accident left him with second- and third-degree burns on 50% of his body, a Western North Carolina boy is making great strides in his recovery.

Barrett McKim has been in the ICU at the burn center in Augusta, Georgia, since June 23. His mother and father, Caroline and Kyle McKim, have been at his bedside every day.

“A couple of times a day, we’re getting up and out of the bed, trying to walk and move, and he’s doing really well,” Kyle McKim said. “He continues to fight through the pain, and he forces himself to do [physical therapy], so he’s doing well there.”

According to Kyle, his son’s injuries were caused by an at-home science experiment that went horrifically wrong. Barrett has already undergone 10 surgeries. The most recent was Wednesday, July 27, when surgeons performed extensive skin grafts, Caroline said.

“They ended up taking [skin] from the back of his thighs that were not burned, his entire back. Then, on the front of his thighs, he had had second-degree burns that had actually healed, and they took skin from the healed second-degree burns for his grafts,” Caroline said. “This is a very long road. We’re, hopefully, on the downward slope of being in the hospital.”

Caroline was also injured in the accident at their Highlands home while trying to save Barrett. She sustained severe burns to her hands and arms and is on her own recovery journey.

“I’m working on the physical therapy, just to get the movement back and just be able to grip again and that sort of thing,” Caroline said.

The family said it is taking things day by day but was thrilled to hear from doctors that Barrett may be eligible for discharge within the next week or two.

When asked what he was most looking forward to upon his discharge from hospital, Barrett’s response:

“Probably seeing my brothers and sisters,” he said. “And archery. I do archery practice every week. I really like that.”

While continuing to recover at home, Barrett will still be bandaged and treated for pain. He has a long road ahead of him.

“We’re probably looking at, from what we’re hearing, probably an 18-month to two-year road of some of the ongoing physical therapy,” Kyle said.

But the road to recovery has been a little less bumpy with supporters cheering him on every step of the way, Caroline said.

“We have received cards from people in Colorado, in Michigan, Hawaii, people that we don’t even know that are just saying, ‘We’re praying for you and we’re thinking about you and we hope you get better,’” Caroline said.

Support has also come in the form of donations. A GoFundMe account set up by Barrett’s uncle and aunt has raised more than $150,000. Kyle McKim said they have been blown away by people’s generosity and well wishes for Barrett.

“We’re very grateful,” Kyle said. “As hard as it’s been, we continue to count our blessings with what the Lord has done with his healing and protection for us.”

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