At 6 years outdated Lucas Parra joined an sadly rising variety of youngsters in South Carolina.
He and his mom, Ashlee Parra, have been making dinner at their residence in West Ashley. Putting his step stool inches away from the stovetop and inside arm’s size of his mom, he climbed as much as the kitchen counter to make his common glass of chocolate milk.
Parra was boiling a pot of water on the range when all of the sudden, Lucas’s stool gave out beneath him.
As he fell to the ground his proper elbow tipped the pot of boiling water over, scalding his face, shoulder and arm.
Drenched in boiling water, his Orange Grove Elementary College sweatshirt clung to his pores and skin, inflicting second- and third-degree scald burns. He’d simply began first grade.
“It was one of many scariest days of my life,” Parra stated.
Over 1,000 folks in South Carolina will want inpatient burn care every year. And since 2020, a rising variety of youngsters in South Carolina have been hospitalized on the South Carolina Burn Middle at MUSC Well being, the one inpatient burn care heart within the state.
Tiffany Smith is the pediatric burn program coordinator on the heart. She stated nationally, pediatric burn numbers rose in the course of the pandemic as youngsters stayed residence and cooked extra usually.
And in 2022 the variety of youngsters hospitalized for burn therapy at MUSC elevated over 40 p.c from 2020.
Smith additionally serves because the director for Camp ‘Can’ Do, a free five-day camp designed for kids who’ve suffered burn accidents and hosted by MUSC Burned Youngsters’s Fund and South Carolina State Firefighters’ Affiliation.
“What’s actually nice in regards to the camp is they are often with different youngsters who’ve been by way of comparable experiences,” Parra stated. “They’re capable of be with youngsters who perceive what it is wish to be checked out as a result of they’ve scars.”
This 12 months marks the camp’s first 12 months again in operation since taking a two-year hiatus resulting from COVID-19 restrictions. Youngsters ages 6-17 bunkered down at Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island Aug. 6-11.
“It was wonderful to observe these youngsters simply be youngsters and never fear about their burn harm or if they’d a scar and reside life to the fullest,” Smith instructed The Submit and Courier.
An enduring impression
Days at Camp ‘Can’ Do begin early, with campers rising at 6 a.m. to go fishing on the docks, adopted by a gaggle breakfast and actions based mostly on the theme for that 12 months.
This 12 months’s theme was “Beneath the Sea,” so campers visited the Splash Zone water park on James Island and the South Carolina Aquarium, ending their evenings beachside.
For a lot of camp volunteers like firefighters, pediatric burn workforce members and grownup burn survivors, working with burn survivors yearly leaves a long-lasting impression on each events.
This was the case for Ross Vezin, deputy chief of operations for the Beaufort Port Royal Fireplace Division and camp counselor for greater than 10 years.
He recalled years in the past, watching considered one of his campers who’d been severely burned in a home hearth as an toddler catch his first fish on the docks at Camp St. Christopher.
The camper’s burns have been so extreme his arms, nostril and ears have been unsalvageable, and left him with a prosthetic nostril and ears.
“To see him catch a fish for the primary time with no fingers or arms, simply utilizing his arm to reel within the fish down on the fishing dock at 7 a.m. type of modified my life,” Vezin stated.
“All he had on his face the remainder of the week was a smile,” Vezin added.
Within the blink of a watch
Smith stated many of the burns she sees at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Youngsters’s Hospital are scald burns, which happen when uncovered to scorching liquid or vapor.
She stated many of those sufferers can heal inside seven days relying on the depth and measurement of the burn. However there are situations the place a affected person wants surgical procedure, like a pores and skin substitute or autograph, the method of taking pores and skin from a unique a part of the affected person’s physique and putting it over the burn to heal.
Lucas has had two surgical procedures since his incident practically 10 years in the past. One was a pores and skin substitute. The opposite was to excellent the look of 1 the scars on his proper arm.
“As a mother, you assume one thing like this may by no means occur to you,” Parra stated. “However it occurred within the blink of a watch.”
Lucas was invited to the camp the summer time of 2013 by his nurses on the Medical College of South Carolina, months after his accident. They helped take care of him after his pores and skin graph surgical procedure and have been instrumental in getting this system began.
Now 15 years outdated and a sophomore at West Ashley Excessive College, Lucas has attended each camp since 2013.
He isn’t afraid of the kitchen
In accordance with a current report from the Nationwide Library of Drugs, practically 20 p.c of school-aged youngsters skilled important traumatic stress reactions lower than a month after sustaining a burn.
The reactions embrace avoidance, hyperarousal and flashbacks. The report additionally discovered that some youngsters really feel a “reexperience” each time they point out their burn harm and lots of are fearful about whether or not they’ll absolutely recuperate.
Parra stated she is happy with the way in which Lucas has handled the hardships of getting a burn harm. Whether or not it is standing as much as a center college bully or volunteering and advocating for the Burned Youngsters’s Fund, Lucas hasn’t let his harm hinder his progress.
“He is nonetheless very outgoing and likes to inform jokes and chuckle,” Parra stated.
Lucas additionally works on the Early Fowl Diner in Charleston as a dishwasher and busboy and hopes to graduate to line cook dinner within the close to future.
“Its humorous,” Parra stated proudly, “he is actually not afraid to be within the kitchen. Now, he is huge into culinary arts.”