8-year-old boy loses hand after picking up unlit firecracker

by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 01 2013 04:05 PM | Updated as of Jan 02 2013 12:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Eight-year-old Jonel lost his right hand, while Alex, a father, lost his eyesight during New Year's Eve celebrations. Both were hit by firecrackers in separate incidents last night.

They are just two of the 54 firecracker victims brought to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila City.

Jonel and Alex have suffered the worst injuries so far among the patients treated at the government hospital.

Jonel was just rushed before noon on Tuesday after he picked up an unknown firecracker near their backyard.

His mother was taking a shower when Jonel returned, crying with his right hand torn into pieces. At the hospital, the boy cried while being treated by orthopedic surgeons.

But Jonel's suffering will not end at the emergency room. At just 8 years old, he will have to face life without a right hand.

In another room, Alex was being treated after a firecracker "Goodbye Philippines" exploded and hit his eyes. He has lost sight in his right eye, and according to Dr. Arturo Capulong Jr. there is a high possibility that the undamaged left eye may also be affected.

Alex has accepted his fate but feels depressed about losing his vision. He says he was just dancing with his family at the strike of midnight when the firecracker exploded a few meters from where they were.

Dr Jose Maneja, the resident OIC of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, said most of their patients were actually considered "passive victims" meaning they are victims that just happened to be passing by a firecracker explosion, standing beside the blast like Alex, or those who were just picking up unused firecrackers like Jonel.

Seventeen out of the 54 victims were hit by "piccolo," a common source of firecracker-related injuries for years. Most of the victims were children.

No stray bullet victim so far has been recorded at the JRRMC.

The number of injured persons brought to this hospital was significantly less with only 54 so far, compared to 109 in 2011.