Mother describes son's fight after suffering tragic burns - WSMV News 4

Mother describes son's fight after suffering tragic burns

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A local mother is starting the new year with an unthinkable struggle. It's been about two weeks since Ashley Walden's 7-year-old son, C.J., set himself on fire with a cigarette lighter.

It badly burned nearly a quarter of his body.

At 25, the young mother has to find the strength so her seven-year-old will make the most of his. She sat down with Channel 4 to describe the fight C.J. now faces.

"We don't need him to be perfect," Ashley Walden said. "We just need him here with us."

A mother's simple sentiment sums up so much of the story of C.J. Walden. The child is in the Burn Unit at Vanderbilt Medical Center recovering from first- and third-degree burns suffered when he caught himself on fire with a cigarette lighter.

"We were getting up that morning. We were going to go to my brother's and do Christmas," Ashley Walden said.

Then, came the screams of something horrible.

"I yelled for my husband," Walden said. "I really wasn't thinking. I was just hoping I could do whatever I could."

She tried to put out the flames herself and soon put C.J. in a full bathtub and called 911.

LifeFlight flew the boy to Vanderbilt.

The boy had suffered burns from his stomach to his mouth.

And in his 10 days in the hospital, C.J. has undergone a set of careful procedures to heal the injuries and fight off infection.

"Until today, he thought his hands were gone, so we had asked the doctors to unwrap his hands, so he could see that he did have hands and fingers," Walden said.

Skin grafts and plastic surgery were part of the plan, but his parents limited some procedures to make things easier.

The boy already has a heart condition.

"C.J.'s his own little person. He doesn't need to be perfect to be himself," Walden said.

In the meantime, there is watching, waiting and prayer. It's a lot for a young mother to juggle, brought on by a ferocious little flame.

"We're holding up for him. We're trying to be the strongest we can for him," Walden said.

But this isn't the first health hurdle for C.J. He was born premature and weighed just three pounds at birth.

He beat the odds then, and that's part of the reason his mother is so hopeful right now.

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