An inspiring eight-year-old girl who raised over £200,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s specialist Burns Centre, has celebrated her birthday today (Thursday 2 December) by cutting the ribbon on a brand new piece of equipment which will help other children like her with severe scarring.

Elizabeth Soffe set out to raise the £130,000 needed to pay for the Fractional CO2 Laser by running a mile every day for 26 days - including 73 laps of her garden during two episodes of isolation - to thank the hospital’s doctors and nurses who saved her life after she was tragically burned as a baby.

The superstar fundraiser absolutely smashed her target and in just three incredible months had raised a whopping £202,751, more than £70,000 over her initial target.

Elizabeth and her family were living in Qatar when, at just six-months-old, Elizabeth’s cot caught fire after an air conditioning unit malfunctioned. She received full thickness burns to 60 per cent of her body and was burnt down to her skull, leaving her without hair. She lost most of her fingers, one of her ears and part of her nose.

Elizabeth was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she has spent the last seven and a half years receiving more than 70 operations including reconstruction of her face, arms and hands, skin grafts, releases of skin grafts and laser treatment. She also has daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy to treat her scars and ensure her range of movement is maintained. She will need many more operations as she grows up.

Fractionated delivery of CO2 laser treatment creates microscopic holes in the tissue of a scar. This energy is thought to stimulate changes in the scar tissue allowing it to reduce in size, texture and colour, making it less visible. But more importantly, it also softens the tissue leading to improved movement and reduced tightness thereby removing the need for invasive and painful scar release or skin graft surgery.

This type of specialist treatment had previously only been used in adult hospitals in Birmingham. But now, thanks to Elizabeth’s incredible donation, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity has been able to purchase the Fractional CO2 Laser, which will be used by all children at the hospital who have lost functional abilities due to scarring, not just from burn injuries but from any trauma or operation.

The remaining monies raised by Elizabeth will be used to benefit other areas of the hospital which have supported her on her road to recovery including Intensive Care, Play and the Burns Centre. 

Liam Soffe, Elizabeth’s dad, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of Elizabeth and the determination she’s shown since she set out to help other children like her with burns. It’s been an absolute whirlwind to get to today and to finally see the CO2 laser become a reality thanks to her hard work, passion and enthusiasm has blown us all, as a family, away – it’s certainly a birthday she won’t forget! It’s an honour to know what we’ve achieved will make such a big difference to so many patients at the hospital. ”

Commenting on what benefit this new machine will bring to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Elizabeth’s surgeon, Mr Naiem Moiemen, added: “Elizabeth is such an amazing and inspirational little girl and I’m honoured to have cared for her since the first day she came to us.

“This new pioneering treatment will not only reduce the visibility of a scar but also reduce the number of operations a child needs to endure. Elizabeth herself will be a beneficiary, but as there are very few paediatric burns centres in the UK, this machine has the potential to benefit a great many children from across the country – not just with scarring from burns, but from other trauma or surgeries too.”

Mark Brider, Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Elizabeth is a true inspiration and there are simply not enough words to express our heartfelt gratitude for her incredible donation to our hospital.

“It’s fundraisers like Elizabeth who enable us to go above and beyond for our patients, by helping to fund the latest equipment, beyond what the NHS can provide, so that we can offer the very best treatment options.”