Young boy badly burned in Sheffield ‘still wakes screaming from nightmares’
The father of a young boy who was horrifically scalded in Sheffield has told how his son still suffers nightmares, from which he wakes screaming.
Owen Atkin was just seven when an incident involving boiling water caused extensive blistering to his head, leaving him in excruciating pain, last May.
His father, Paul Atkin, spoke movingly at the time of watching the young Owls fan writhing in agony on the hospital bed, shouting 'please don't let me die'. He said medics initially feared his son's burns would leave him scarred for life and could cost him his eyesight.
Owen is now eight and the physical injuries have almost completely healed, with only faint scarring beneath where his hair has grown back. But the emotional trauma runs much deeper.
"He's doing well but he's had a few nightmares, from which he's woken up screaming, and if we go into that part of Sheffield he says he doesn't like it because of what happened there," said Paul.
"He's recovered much better than expected physically, and there's only a little bit of scarring where his hair's grown back, which is barely noticeable.
"When he first came out of hospital it was the summer and the scarring was still so bad he couldn't go out in the sun to play with his friends, which he found really hard."
Owen's plight tugged at the public's heartstrings. Well-wishers donated more than £5,000, which was spent on much-needed treats for him and his brother, and they were also given free family holidays.
Sheffield Wednesday players visited him in hospital before inviting him to join them at a training session when he was on the mend.
"The response from the public, especially the Sheffield Wednesday family, has been fantastic. Lee Bullen, in particular, has been amazing from the moment he came to visit him in hospital, and it meant so much to Owen to be invited to join the players at the training ground," said Paul.
"I'd also like to thank the two charities who donated holidays to the Lake District and Cornwall, which were Yorkshire Children's Trust and The Lily Grace Cunliffe Foundation.”
Paul, a 36-year-old parks maintenance worker for Sheffield Council, who lives in Barnsley with Owen and his elder son Lewis, aged 11, said what happened had affected him badly, and he had needed time off work to look after his son and get over the shock.
"I kept asking myself could I have done more as a father to stop this happening. I wasn’t there when it happened but I still felt so guilty,” he explained.
"I got really down and had to see my GP, who put me on antidepressants. I could barely leave the house and I tried to block out the world.”
Paul told how he will never be able to erase the memory of seeing Owen for the first time after the incident in such pain.
"The worst time was seeing him on the hospital bed when his face was swollen and he couldn't even open his eyes," he said.
"He was in excruciating pain and was shouting 'help me, help me, please don't let me die'.
"I was sitting there trying my best to reassure him but knowing there was nothing I could do to take the pain away. That's the worst feeling you can have as a parent."