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Girl badly burned in Guyana school dormitory fire released from Staten Island University Hospital

Guyana school fire survivor released from Staten Island burn center
Guyana school fire survivor released from Staten Island burn center 02:11

NEW YORK -- A fire in Guyana back in May took the life of 20 people who were trapped in a school dormitory.

More than two dozen students were also injured.

One of them was transferred from South America to receive care at a burn center on Staten Island.

FLASHBACKGuyanese community in Queens rallying for families of victims of school dormitory fire

Mariza Williams beat the odds. The 12-year-old may be small in stature, but her bravery knows no bounds. She narrowly escaped death when her secondary school dorm building was set on fire.

She was stabilized at a hospital, but doctors knew she might die if she wasn't transferred to a specialized burn unit.

"And in a matter of hours, we arranged passports, visas, air evacuation, and got her there in just a matter of days," said Dr. Shalindra Rajkumar, a plastic surgeon at Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana.

Williams was flown more than 2,600 miles to the Burn Center at Staten Island University Hospital. Dr. Michael Cooper is the director of the Burn Center.

"She had about a 40% third-degree flame burn, which she had already undergone some removal of the burned skin. She was on a mechanical breathing machine," Cooper said.

It was a race against time to remove burned skin to prevent infection. After more than 10 surgeries and skin graphs, Williams was taken off the ventilator.

As she was discharged from the hospital and on her way back to Guyana on Monday, the girl's parents thanked the countless doctors, nurses and medical staff at Staten Island University Hospital for giving the brave little girl a bright future.

"I am very proud of the these things that happened in collaboration with Guyana and the U.S. and I can say God bless America for helping my baby recover," Max Williams said.

"I have more to (say), but I am so happy, that I can't express ... Thank you so much," Marlene Williams said.

Mariza Williams can now walk, but she still requires a lot of physical therapy and treatments for her burns.

However, doctors say getting her back home will help accelerate the healing process.

One of the students at the state-run school in Guyana is accused of setting that fire at the girls dormitory. The student has been arrested and charged with murder.  

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