Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Construction to begin shortly on home for 14-y-o burn victim

Published:Monday | September 11, 2023 | 12:07 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Westmoreland burn victim Adrianna Laing arrives at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida after being discharged from the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston on March 28.
Westmoreland burn victim Adrianna Laing arrives at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida after being discharged from the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston on March 28.

Construction is to begin shortly on a new two-bedroom house for 14-year-old Adrianna Laing, almost one year to the date that she suffered major burns requiring major life-saving surgeries.

The fire that occurred at the house she shared with her father and siblings took the lives of her three brothers, including twins. She was left with massive burns.

Western Westmoreland Member of Parliament (MP) Morland Wilson, who has been leading the efforts to get a house built for Adrianna and her father, told The Gleaner that approvals for the construction of the house on land owned by her grandmother in St Elizabeth have been given by the parish council.

“Construction on the foundation for the house was held up because there are two derelict motor vehicles on the property that have to be removed for the construction to begin,” he said.

Wilson said the construction should begin any day now.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom house valued between 10 and $12 million is being done under the Hope Project out of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Wilson said construction of the house is finally coming to fruition.

“I am exceptionally happy that Adrianna will finally have a place to call her own, somewhere that will suit her special needs for she is a special child. We stand ready to get her back into normal childhood,” he said.

He further stated that a lot of effort was put into getting the house to this point and praised Prime Minister Andrew Holness for giving a commitment to have a home provided for Adrianna and following through to see it come to fruition.

“The prime minister took particular interest in this and I am happy that we are getting it done,” he told The Gleaner.

The MP pointed out that some nine fire-victims who lost their homes because of fire are also in line to get new houses in the constituency.

Wilson has been working with the family since the fire occurred.

According to Wilson, what held up construction of the house was permission from the title-holder of the land on which the house was to have been built.

Providing background to The Gleaner, Wilson said the house that was burnt down was situated on family land. To build the new house, permission had to be received from the family member who is responsible for the land for construction to begin.

“The house will be a concrete structure and cannot be moved once built so we need to be sure about building on the existing site. That is what is holding up construction,” he said.

Wilson further noted that, during discussions with the father, a suggestion was put forward about having the house constructed on lands owned by Adrianna’s mother in St Elizabeth, although her father’s preference was to have the house constructed at the site of the original home.

Adrianna suffered life-threatening burns when her father’s Westmoreland house caught fire and burned to the ground. Having received extensive life-saving treatment in the United States, she is expected to return to Jamaica about the second week of January and initial concerns were that she faced the prospect of homelessness.

Adrianna’s ordeal all began when the family house in Westmoreland was burnt down. Adrianna is the lone survivor of the tragic inferno that took the life of her three younger brothers, nine-year-old Adrianno Laing, and seven-year-old twins Jorden and Jayden Laing, and totally destroyed their home in Westmoreland.

The four children were to attend school at the beginning of the new school year when the fire broke out. Adrianna was first taken to The University Hospital of the West Indies surgical intensive care unit suffering from third-degree burns. Some US$40,000 was raised to fly her to the United States for treatment.

Adrianna was treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where her care was overseen by lead doctor, Zaheed Hassan.

After undergoing some 18 life-saving operations, Adrianna was transferred to Shriners Children Hospital for rehabilitation. There, she was fitted with a prosthetic leg.

She returned home earlier this year and is set to start attending school. However, The Gleaner understands that she is currently in the United States for some treatment associated with a skin rash she developed.