Family with special needs daughter loses everything in house fire

A Howell family is starting over after a fast-moving house fire.

And for the youngest member of the family, it’s hard to imagine all that Hazel Schmaus has been through, at just 2 and a half years old. 

"Three open heart surgeries before 11 months old. lung surgery, diaphragm surgery," said Shannon Schmaus, her mother.

Hazel was born with a rare condition called DiGeorge complete, she is unable to breathe without a ventilator. 

"She basically has no immune system at all, and we are waiting on transplant from Duke University in North Carolina," Shannon said. "They are the only place in the county that does this transplant."

But what she does have is a family willing to sacrifice to keep her alive. 

"Back in November we adopted Hazel and she is on life support," Shannon said.

They all made a comfortable life in rural Livingston County. 

"We have lived in isolation since we got her," Shannon said. "No one comes in and out - just her nurses, that is about it."

On Jan. 7, they all were dealt another blow with a devastating house fire.

"I took my hot bath, went to bed, and woke up to an explosion," Shannon said.

"We were all out of the house within the minute the fire started," said nurse Autumn Leonard.

"The car was on fire in the garage, we started screaming to get everybody out," Shannon said. "Autumn snatched up Hazel in a blanket and we ran outside barefoot."

By the time the flames were out there was nothing left. Their home, their belongings, their cars, gone. 
Hazel's father went back into the fire to grab a ventilator, something hazel cannot live without. Everything else, the medications, the other equipment needs to be replaced. 

Nearly one week after the fire, little has changed. That is because of this note saying this nothing here should be disturbed as they work to find an exact cause of the fire. adding delays as the work with insurance. and care for Hazel. 

Their community has rallied behind them. A neighbor has given them a roof over their heads, but still so much is needed. 

 "We have nowhere to put anything. We appreciate donations, right now gift cards would help, Visa cards."

Even though this family has lost a lot they know they have everything that truly matters. 

"A lot of families think this doesn't happen to you and it's a miracle that we all found our way out," Leonard said.

TO DONATE: Send gift cards to the Schmaus family, P.O. Box 532143 Livonia MI 48153