Share this article

print logo

Long hospital ordeal seen for girl badly burned in Buffalo fire

With burns over 90 percent of her body, Treasure Brighon is about to begin a series of surgeries as doctors at Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati continue efforts to save the 8-year-old girl’s life, according to family members.

Treasure first needs surgery, possibly Monday, to remove a couple of fingers that cannot be saved, and will then begin surgeries related to skin grafting, family members said Sunday.

The process, they said, will be long and difficult. What’s more, they said, the odds that doctors have given are not in the child’s favor.

Treasure can expect to be in the hospital for a least a year, the family was told.

And that was the good news.

The odds of her surviving are about 20 percent, family members said they were told.

But there is optimism.

“She’ll make it,” said one of her aunts, Gwendolyn Taylor. “She is very strong.”

“She’s breathing better,” said William Johnson, one of Treasure’s uncles.

She remained in critical but stable condition Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Treasure’s mother, Tempest Thomas, is in Cincinnati with Treasure, and plans to remain there – living in a Ronald McDonald House for family members of patients – as long as necessary, said Taylor, who is Thomas’ sister.

Taylor is watching over her sister’s oldest son, Demetrius Thomas Johnson Jr., 3, who remains at Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, where family members said he is doing very well.

He was unconscious when rescued from the burning house Friday, Taylor said. But by Saturday evening, she said, doctors had removed all the tubes he had been hooked up to.

“He’s doing great,” she said.

Demaris Johnson, 15 months old, who was discharged from the hospital Friday, is staying with his paternal grandmother, Lorez Collier, whose son, Demetrius Johnson, 24, died Friday while rescuing Thomas, his financée; and their three children – Treasure, Demetrius Jr. and Demaris – from a fire at their Humber Street home.

“Everybody pray for Treasure,” Collier said. “We need her to live. She is the cutest little girl.”

Collier and other family members were at Mount Hope Community Church on Broadway, where a service was held Sunday to support Demetrius Johnson’s family.

About two dozen family members attended as guests of the church, which is helping to raise money and collect home furnishings for Tempest Thomas and the three children.

Contributions are coming from throughout the area, said Pastor Charles H. Walker II.

“My heart goes out to you,” Walker said to Collier. “We are your family now.”

“This is Buffalo,” Walker added. “We are the City of Good Neighbors.”

The church received contributions of beds and appliances as well as clothing and toys, he said. In fact, several people – including a man from Niagara Falls – came during Sunday’s service to donate to the family.

By the time Treasure and her mother return from Cincinnati, Walker said, he hoped to have collected all the home furnishing they will need.

“We will have a house filled when she comes back,” Walker said.”We are all part of the village.”

Pastor James E. Giles, who heads the Back to Basics Outreach Ministry, also attended the service, and addressed Collier. “I cannot begin to know how you are feeling but God is a healer,” he said.

“Everyone pray for Treasure,” Giles continued, saying: “God, we want the doctors to be baffled by what you are going to do.”

Common Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo Sr., of the Masten District, also spoke during the service. “This family endured what no family should have to endure,” he said.

“We don’t know why God does what he does,” Wingo said, “but we know He doesn’t make mistakes.”

The service was often emotional for Collier, Taylor, and other family members, including aunts, uncles and cousins of Demetrius Johnson and his children.

Also at the service was Demetrius Johnson’s 4-year-old daughter from another relationship.

“She was not in the house, but is another child that has to grow up without a dad,” Collier said of her.

Collier broke down in tears several times as she and others spoke of her 24-year-old son.

But she also took some solace as the pastors and congregation spoke of her son with admiration.

“Your son is a hero,” Walker said. “He laid his life down for his children.

“Don’t ever let these children forget that. Where their daddy is, he’s a hero,” Walker said.

“He’s an angel of God,” one of Collier’s family members called out.

Donations to Thomas and the children can be dropped off at Mount Hope Community Church, 1326 Broadway; or First Centennial Baptist Church, 273 High St.

Also, a Go Fund Me account has been set up that’s called “Father Dies Saving Children.”