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Burn victim, 6, gets new home in Queens after 10-month rehab

By Nathan Duke

A 6-year-old girl who was badly injured in an East Harlem gas explosion that killed her mother and injured her siblings last fall was released from St. Mary's Hospital for Children in Bayside Monday and has moved into a new home in South Ozone Park with her family.

Duaa Al Ghaithi and her three sisters — Twka, Lina and Alaf — all sustained burns on 60 percent to 90 percent of their bodies during the Oct. 6 gas explosion that ripped through an apartment building on 119th Street in East Harlem, said Dr. Edwyn Simpser, the hospital's executive vice president and chief medical officer.

The girls' mother, Alouf Hassan, a 29-year-old Yemeni immigrant, died from injuries she sustained during the fire.

But Duaa became the last victim of the fire to complete treatment and be released. The girl, who had been hospitalized for 10 months, left St. Mary's Hospital, where she underwent extensive therapy and rehabilitation, Simpser said.

“I think she's a very strong, brave young lady, no doubt about it,” he said. “She had scarring throughout her body and some areas of the severest burning required skin grafting. She'll probably require more over time.”

Simpser said the girl also had a tracheostomy tube to assist her breathing and speech after her vocal chords were burned during the fire.

“She was very, very sick,” he said. “But six months later, she's walking, talking and eating.”

Duaa moved with her father and three sisters into a new apartment in South Ozone Park this week, Simpser said. The family had previously been living in a shelter, he said.

Her sisters were hospitalized for periods ranging from one month to three-and-a-half months, Simpser said.

The explosion, which wounded more than 20 people, was blamed on a leaking hose behind a kitchen stove.

St. Mary's Hospital for Children is located on 216th Street in Bayside.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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