Little Lexie Brain is a real-life phoenix from the flames – after surviving a horror barbecue blast while still in her mother’s womb.
Mum-to-be Hannah Brain, 27, was standing next to a the gas-fuelled grill when it blew up and engulfed her and husband Dave in a flash fireball.
She suffered third degree burns to her back, head and arms and went into false labour and spent an agonising week in hospital.
Hannah was unable to take morphine because she was in the latter stages of pregnancy and nurses slowly removed the burnt flesh from her body.
Dave, 29, suffered 40 per cent burns as his head, arms and chest were scorched in the blast caused by a faulty gas canister.
The couple feared the blast had killed their unborn daughter – who had stopped moving and kicking inside Hannah – but she was eventually born last October two weeks overdue.
Little Lexie is now six months old and her parents have made a remarkable recovery after skin graft treatment at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
Dave, who works at a breast cancer screening clinic, said: “Considering the accident nearly did her in, she was our miracle baby when she finally decided to come out.”
The blast happened at a barbecue at his mum Sue Vickery’s home in Fishponds, Bristol last August.
Dave said: “We’d only just got there. Everyone was asking Hannah how she was as she was heavily pregnant when there was a huge explosion.
“We were both thrown to the floor. The gas canister had ruptured and blew the hob up.
“The whole thing blew up into a big fireball.
“We were stood little more than a metre away at the time but luckily we were facing the other way as the flames came around us.
“It all happened so fast. Next thing I remember I was in the kitchen sink getting water poured over me while Hannah was in the bathroom having the same.”
Hannah, also mum to eight year-old daughter Courtney from a previous relationship, was rushed into the shower by her mother-in-law.
She said: “It wasn’t until I felt that my hair was gone on the back of my head that I realised what had happened.
“When I came back down Dave was laid out on the floor with the paramedic around him and I thought he was gone.”
The pair, from Bristol, were rushed to nearby Frenchay Hospital where Dave underwent an operation to scrub away his burned flesh that evening.
Hannah added: “Lexie usually kicked all the time but she stopped moving and kicking when it happened and the ambulance crew didn’t have anything on them to be able to see if she was okay.
“I was panicking until we got to A&E.”
Dave said: “When we knew Lexie was fine we were so relieved and then we could just take care of ourselves.”
The couple were among the first patients to benefit from a new burns clinic at Frenchay Hospital, one of the first of its kind in the country.
It meant they could both leave hospital earlier and return for regular appointments while they continued their recovery at home.
Dave was discharged the following day but had to return daily as a day patient for two weeks.
He said: “We thought the worst at the time. I thought my face was coming off. My hair went.
“At first I thought it was on fire and then got on with it but then the pain got worse and worse and blisters came and my skin fell off.
“It was painful for about three weeks, maybe a bit more.
“It was worse for Hannah – she was in Frenchay for six days – but she’s tough.
“Luckily, we don’t have much scarring from the incident. Hannah has some discolouration on the skin on her arms, but my face recovered quite well.”
He added: “My mum and stepdad were horrified even though it wasn’t their fault.
“They felt responsible but there was nothing anyone could have done – it’s just a miracle that nobody was hurt.
“It hasn’t put us off having barbecues though. If the sun was out, we’d definitely have another although we’ll steer clear of gas ones in future.”
The new adult burns clinic runs outpatient appointments for patients to see specialist nurses and other experts to help with the rest of their care.
Consultant plastic surgeon Jon Pleat said it was set up because patients generally prefer to recover from their injuries at home.
It offers access to the whole team of experts who traditionally would have seen patients on the ward, even if they were otherwise fit and heathy.
Mr. Pleat said: “From the feedback we have had here in the first nine months or so, patients are delighted with the care they have received.
“Not only does it reduce risk of cross-infection but it also probably improved the time patients spend in hospital.
“There are not many other burns centres in the UK doing anything like this.”
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