Recently in Survivors Stories Category

May 22, 2012

Burn Survivor Has Skin Graft Surgery, and Has a Difficult Recovery Ahead

The lone survivor of a small-airplane crash in southeast Kansas recently underwent skin graft surgery to treat third degree burns across 28 percent of her body. Hannah Luce of Garden Valley, Texas, a recent graduate of Oral Roberts University, was flying with four others to a Christian youth rally in Iowa when their twin-engine Cessna crashed northwest of Chanute, Kansas.

All the other people, including the pilot, died in the crash. Hannah Luce is the daughter of Ron Luce, an Oral Roberts trustee and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, which was sponsoring the rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was treated at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. A spokesperson there said that Hannah was in serious condition but was expected to make a full recovery.

"She went into her first surgery for skin grafts on burns she suffered on her left leg, her arms and her hands," said a spokesperson for the family. "The doctors are saying it's a miracle Hannah didn't suffer more internal trauma." Hannah was off a respirator and breathing on her own several days after the crash, and was awake and answering questions before surgery.

However, "she's dealing with the loss of four friends. They were all tremendous individuals," the spokesperson said. "They all had a heart for reaching the younger generation."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash. The pilot had a commercial pilot's license, was certified for that aircraft, and had been flying for years. One other victim, a former Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq before attending Oral Roberts, might have helped Luce escape the crash site and get help before succumbing to his own burn injuries.

Once the surgery is complete, Hannah will have to undergo a lot of painful rehabilitation in order for her burn injuries to heal enough to allow her to lead a normal life again.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 26, 2011

Burn Survivor Stories: Children Getting Another Chance at Life

This month, a young Iraqi boy disfigured by a car bomb in Iraq came to Long Island, NY for surgery that could give him a chance at a normal life. Zeenabdeen Hadi, now four years old, was barely a year old when the blast burned part of his face down to the bone.

The Global Medical Relief Fund helped bring the boy and his uncle to the United States. The two are staying at Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, NY and are expected to be there for several months. In addition to reconstructive surgery, doctors want to close a wound in Zeenabdeen's forehead that could lead to a brain infection.

This is not the first time that young victims of severe burns in Iraq have been brought to the U.S. for life-altering and even life-saving treatment of injuries resulting from third-degree burns. In 2007, a six-year-old Iraqi boy, who was horribly scarred after he was set on fire by insurgents outside Baghdad, underwent surgery in Los Angeles to repair his badly burned face. The boy, known only as Youssif, will need almost a year and several more surgeries to recover. The American public responded generously to his needs, donating $300,000.

One month before they were brought to Los Angeles, Youssif's desperate father approached a CNN television crew in Iraq and said, "Look what these monsters did to my boy." Donations poured into the Sherman Oaks-based Children's Burn Foundation. The foundation covered visas, plane tickets and medical costs.

Dr. Richard Grossman detailed the plan: First, some scar tissue was removed from the forehead and nose area and replaced with temporary grafts.Two skin expanders were inserted too. The following week, a full skin graft was performed with skin from Youssif's abdomen. Later, the expanded skin replaced the surrounding scar tissue.

The surgeries can never completely undo the disfigurement, but Youssif's spirits were very high about the idea of living a normal life.

Here's a similar story: In 2010, after a year in the U.S. where he underwent five surgeries to treat severe burns, an Iraqi boy landed at the Baghdad airport to reunite with his family. 13-year-old Mohammed wore a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and a T-shirt reading "Property of Michigan State" -- the university where his surgery was performed.

Caught in a house fire started by rebels when he was only two years old, Mohammed was severely scarred. Then three years ago, his father was gunned down by insurgents for working as translator for U.S. troops. When his uncle went to the morgue to claim the body, he too was killed by militants, who warned Mohammed's mother they would kill her and her children if she ever contacted the U.S. military.

Instead, Mohammed went on his own to an army checkpoint outside Ramadi in November 2008 and asked a Michigan Army National Guard physician assistant named Howell to save him and take him to America.

It took Howell six months to get permission, but he managed to get Mohammed to Michigan, find him a Muslim host family, and set up a foundation to pay for his operations.

Black, glossy hair now grows where only scar tissue was before. And Mohammed's left hand and wrist -- deformed in the fire -- now can field baseballs. He gained 26 pounds and grew 3.5 inches during his time in America -- and he now speaks English with an American accent.

Howell said they are hoping to find a way to someday get Mohammed back to the U.S. for college, hopefully at Michigan State.

March 25, 2011

Survivor Story

In 1996 there was a devastating fire where a church deacon lost his life when his
apartment was set on fire by suspected drug dealers. Jackie, his wife and her3 children survived, but were seriously injured. Jackie suffered severe smoke inhalation and burns to her arms. Her oldest daughter also suffered from smoke inhalation along with 2nd & 3rd degree burns to her arms and legs. The youngest daughter and son who was 3 years old miraculously managed to escape with minor injuries.

After an extended period in the Burn Unit, Jackie and her daughter went home. However, the oldest daughter would require additional surgery at some point.
Resilience, determination, motivation allowed this family to survive the ordeal of not only losing a husband, but losing all they had.

It is now 14 years later, the two girls are now adults; the son is about to graduate from High School. There is a constant reminder when mom and daughter look at the scars that were left--not just the physical ones , but the emotional ones
The family has survived their ordeal. Of course it was a struggle trying to survive not only the physical impact, but the emotional trauma.
It's like a container of milk that spills; you can't pick it up and put it back into the container

October 15, 2010

Surviving a Burn Injury

Burns are one of the most devastating experiences an individual can have. Un- like having an illness or disease that has been diagnosed after a battery of tests and examinations, no one expects to suffer a burn. Who expects the cold water to turn boiling hot without warning while taking a shower? Who would imagine that an old woman scalds herself in the bath tub resulting in a devastating injury which causes enormous physical and mental suffering? Who goes to sleep safe in their bed only to wake up in the midst of a blazing fire? Firemen face the risk of being burned every time they respond to a call. These are some of the real life stories witnessed by a retired Chaplain who has served in one of our nation's top metropolitan burn centers. She has witnessed the worst of the worst, the miracles of modern medicine, the incredible strength of the human spirit and the ability of the body to heal. She will share what she has learned, what she has seen, and what other burn survivors have gone through. You are invited to share your personal story as well.

September 24, 2010

Survivor Story

In April of 1984, Jerry White, lost his right leg in a landmine accident, he outlines in his book "I Will Not Be Broken" five steps to cope with disasters and achieve strength and hope.

  1. You have to face the facts: a person must accept the facts and the reality that this thing has happened and you can't change it no matter what, you can't set the clock back to the time before that incident. Sometimes suffering results from attachment to ideas and things more than the loss itself.
  2. Choosing to live: look at the future and say yes to it, look at your life and choose it to go in a positive way, don't surrender to what happened, let go of the resentment and look always forward and not backward.
  3. Reaching out: after the incident there may come times of isolation and loneliness, break these times by reaching out to friends, family and people who have been through similar circumstances, don't wait for someone to reach you, it's up to you to reach to someone.
  4. Get moving: take steps to move on with your life, step out of your house to generate motion, take responsibility for your actions, see what steps you can take to return back to your normal life.
  5. Giving back: sharing your experience, skills and talents with others to inspire them to do the same. Survivors are in a special position to help and encourage others to heel and fulfill their potential. With the right support all survivors can heal and thrive. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "It's one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

September 23, 2010

Face Facts

From the book "I Will Not Be Broken" by Jerry White

Survivor X was setting into his new work as an aid worker in Rwanda. His team was held hostage and shot by insurgent. He was the only one who survived after losing three of his colleagues. In order to save his life, his leg had to be amputated above the knee. He says that looking at the mirror and seeing himself different from before was one of the hardest things for him. He had to learn to be ok with who he was. He had to face the fact that he lost his leg and take care of the things that needed to be done.

Losing a body part was his worst fear in life as he says and it became true, but it wasn't so bad. His next worst fear was to learn to walk again and it wasn't that bad either. He found that life wasn't that bad and he had the courage to laugh after facing his fears.

September 3, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part Six)

At home the memories of the kitchen would haunt me every time I walked by the kitchen. For months I would lean to one side when I walked because it would hurt to walk straight. I was afraid of taking showers and I was also afraid of hot water. I didn't want to get burned again so I would always take a bath. My mother would have to put cream on my burns and wrap me back up. Every time I took a shower someone had to be in the bathroom, so that I would not fall and open my wounds. Eventually we moved out of the apartment where my accident occurred. I attended eight grade which was challenging. My peers would stare and point at my arm, I felt like they was laughing at me. After a while, they got to know me personally. I overcame the stares and the looks, it does not bother me anymore. I am now 17 and I recently graduated High School. I showed everyone that I can do whatever I set my mind to. My family used to tell me that I can out of my shell. I've come out of my shell by being more open minded about my situation, talking to people about my experience. Not trying to hide my skin but letting others know that I am human too. I made a list of things that make me feel shy, uncomfortable or withdrawn. I tell people who are curious about my burns, that I am proud of the young woman that I have become. I know that I am beautiful inside and out and that is all that matters to me. Knowing that I respect myself plus everyone else around me there is no stopping my will to strive for the best. Being burned is not just skin deep it affects your personality. Just learning to cope with it is the hardest part. Some move on and some don't. I moved on. I didn't want to be sad all the time or fell pity. There is still a life out there and I plan on living it. In fact, I start college in the fall.

September 2, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part Five)

When I got home I had to get use to being there. I needed my mother to change my bandages. I attended a barbeque with friends down stairs from my grandmother house. I didn't stay very long because my back was hurting me. My shirt was stuck to my back and I could not remove the shirt. Unfortunately I was re-admitted to the hospital. The second time being there was easier than the first time. Technically it was still stressful being back in a place I was trying so hard to avoid. The only thing that needed to heal was my back. So they put a certain type of patch that went around my whole body. The patch contained some kind of medicine. The nurse never told me that I would constantly feel sharp pain. When I was in the bed I couldn't move a certain way because of the pain. The second time in the hospital I stayed by myself. That didn't bother me because I needed some time to be alone to think about how my life would be. I would read books to keep my mind off the pain. Sometimes I thought about how being burned affected my family. When I came home I still had to attend weekly visit to the doctors, physical therapy and home school. That's when they gave me my JOBST suit. A JOBST suit is a custom pressure garment. I had to wear it 23 hours a day, only taking it off when I took a shower and putting moisture on my burns. The type of lotion I used was Lubriderm. I received summer school because I had to constantly be watched. That was hard because it was just the teacher and me. But luckily I passed through out all of the pain I endured. Seeing people just like me made me feel like I was not alone. My doctors recommended burn camp so that I could meet other patients like me. Connecticut Burn Camp was life changing. I never knew that so many children were burned. Even the camp counselor shared the same experience. That was the first time I wore a bathing suit in front of friends. No one judge us because we were all burned or scared. We always asked each other to share out stories. I plan on being a camp counselor when I turn eighteen. I want to give hope to other kids and let them know that they get through this tough time.

September 1, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part Four)

The surgery was for a skin graft where I had 3rd degree burns. In surgery the doctors used a metal medical object so that they could peel the skin off from a healthy part of my body. Then the graft would be placed on the part of my body that had 3rd degree burn. After the surgery I had to stay in bed for a whole week which was so uncomfortable. They would monitor the amount of food I ate every day to make sure that I was eating the proper amount. Going to the bathroom in the pail was horrible. Depending on others was hard, because I was 12 years old; I was a big girl and not a baby. I felt like an angle with one of her wings cut off, I could not fly. But I always held my head up. While in the hospital I attended therapy, which was very difficult for me. I had to move my right arm so that my joints would not be stuck. Trying to lift my arm over my head or reach for a certain object was challenging. I played games with the nurse but I would have to put my left one behind my back and play with my right hand. Because I part of therapy was to stretch my right that was burned arm. Playing with just my right hand was good exercise therapy. Each day I got one step close to recovery. Stretching my back to loosen up my muscles brought me to tears. I told myself that I would never stop pushing myself. When it was time for me to leave the hospital I was still kind of scared to go out into the real world. To prepare me for discharge the doctors set me up with a psychologist. I talked to her about everything. I worried that I would not be accepted in school. I felt like no one would like me because I was burned, I became depressed feeling guilty, thinking that it was my fault. The psychologist insisted that I tell my mother that I was glad it was me instead of her. The psychologist came to see me in the hospital. She knew how I felt about people starring at me. But I knew that everyone was going to look at me different. She prepared me and gave me more confidence about myself. A few days later I got to go home the burn unit thrown me a going home party. I was ready to go home and be with my family. I helped my mother pack all my belongings. I knew I could not be in the sun so my mother brought me a jump suit. I was starting a new chapter in my life as a burn survivor. I knew I was ready for the new challenges that awaited me.

August 31, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part Three)

The new room was kind of an eye opener, because I could see everyone coming in and out of the hospital. I was pleased to see other people leaving the hospital, seeing others leave kind of gave me strength to get well. A challenge that I faced was learning how to walk again. My legs were swollen. I struggled to get out of bed to walk around the hospital. There was a play room and every morning I would have to practice walking. I had school in the play room where I met a few children that were burned. My sisters and brothers were coming to see me, I had the opportunity to walk and greet them in the play room. They couldn't come into my hospital room because they were too young. I was so sad, because they didn't want to touch me. I didn't understand why they were scared of me, I was their family. But I didn't blame them, they were too young to understand. But we did make a jewelry box together which was fun. I got to paint it pink and blue. My family had to come into the room with scrubs and gloves on, so that I would not get an infection. My family would come and see me all the time, they brought me flowers, food or just show me how much they love me. They were so supportive, no matter what they were at the hospital. My grandfather told previous to the accident, my mother went to a man who told her that something bad was going to happen to me. We prayed after the accident that I would heal. Even my friends called me just to check up on me. My mother was in the hospital with me nonstop but she needed a break to go home to my brothers and sisters. I would have bad dreams about the accident and wake up crying. I was so scared one night that I asked one of the nurses if he could stay with me in the room until I fall back to sleep. His name was Dr. Love. He taught me how to be strong. He would always say never give up no matter what you do. I appreciated everything he did for me. That night the doctors called my mother and told her that I needed a blood transfusion. She did not know that I was having surgery right away.

August 30, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part Two)

My mother was in the ambulance with me. The ride was so bumpy and confusing. I started feeling pain on my back I did not know what it was. I told the paramedic what I was felling. She lifted me up a little so that she could see what was wrong. While doing so my mother started crying. To this day I don't know what she saw but I have an idea. They took me to Cornell Hospital where I was admitted to the burn unit. When I arrived at Cornell they took me into an emergency room where the doctors would remove the covers. I hated that because every time they remove the covers I would look down to see my body. I had what looked like water blisters on my body. The doctor told my mother that I was burned over 36% of my body. They were getting me ready to remove the dead skin. For some reason I was so sleepy and all I wanted to do was sleep. When I woke up all I wanted was food, and luckily my mother brought food for me. Seeing myself in bandages made me feel sad. I really didn't know what happened to me. I could not recall the accident at that point in time. All I knew was that I was feeling pain everywhere. It felt like pins were sticking in me. They put me into a room for seriously injured patients. I was in the ICU (intensive care unit). I was washed daily to remove dead skin in a room that was called The Tank. I hated the Tank, you would have to get two baths a day. The one in the morning would be in the Tank and the one at night would be in your bed. They would remove the bandages and scrub at my burns. I would scream to my mom and tell her that I don't want them to touch me. Begging her to tell them to stop, "mommy please don't let them touch me". It got so bad to I was asked the doctors if I could wash myself. The water came out full blast, I would be freezing cold when they were done. Heading back to my room, I would be shivering asking for more blankets.The doctors moved me out of that room a few days later.

August 27, 2010

My name is Dashanda and I am a burn survivor (Part One)

My mother moved our family to New York in search of a better life. It was stressful living in New York, We had to go to a shelter to find a place to stay. Seeing my mother struggle was really hard for me and my brothers and sisters. My mother has six kids, with me and my twin brother being the oldest. We never really understood why my mother left Georgia, and we never asked. Our very first apartment in Brooklyn was not what we were use to. It was only a one bedroom apartment. I had to share a room with my brothers and sisters. We had been in the apartment for about a month when this accident happened. August 14, 2004 will always stay in my mind as a reminder. My mother wanted to cook Sunday dinner for the family. She was boiling chicken on the stove. We were straightening up the house so that we could play afterwards. My little brother and I were told to clean the kitchen. While cleaning I opened the oven door and all I remember is the stove tilting forward and the pot with the boiling water sliding towards me. I fell on the floor along with the pot that fell on me. The water was very hot! As soon as it hit my skin I was screaming. I ran out of the kitchen and into the living room. All I could do was cry and scream. My mother called 911. They told her to put me in the tub and run cold water. Sitting there I was wondering why this just happened to me. Crying and shivering at the same time I heard the fire trucks and the police in front of my building. When they arrived upstairs they took me out of the cold water and then put me into a chair. My skin was wrinkled in certain places where I knew that I was burned. I remember telling the firefighters that I didn't want to die, I was crying for help.

August 12, 2010

Setting Goals

After a burn injury many survivors think that it's the end of the world and that all hope is lost. They think that they will never be able to live a normal life again. Setting goals is important as it will help the survivor to return back to the society and living a normal life again. A survivor should start by setting goals that are achievable and are not too hard and not too easy to achieve. Start with the easy goals and take small steps, one at a time. These steps will build up and you will be amazed later at what you have achieved. Have a plan to achieve the goals and don't let setbacks prevent you from progressing. Reward yourself after accomplishing a goal no matter how small the goal was. Continuously assess the progress you are making toward achieving each goal and see what steps are needed to reach your next plateau. After achieving each goal you will feel empowered and this will create positive feedback and enhance self esteem. With time you will see and feel the power of accomplishment and how this will speed up your recovery.

August 6, 2010

Survivor Story

From the book "I will not be broken" by Jerry White.

Survivor X was disabled during the civil war that took place in 1978 in Eritrea. In the beginning he was saying "Now my legs are injured, what is going to happen to me?" But this didn't keep him down. He quickly got rid of these thoughts because he realized what happened to him, has happened already and he can't change the past. He stopped thinking about what happened to him and instead started thinking about what he can do. He started thinking about going back to work and taking control of his life, because if he doesn't do that, nobody is going to do it for him. All the bad thoughts that were in his mind were gradually diminishing until they were completely gone.

He now takes care of his elderly mother, and helps cultivate the land for elderly and challenged people in his area. In return for working their land, he shares the produce with them and also get to keep a share for himself. Survivor X doesn't see himself as a challenged person because he was able to work and give back.

August 5, 2010

Everything is Possible

There is a purpose in life for every person and no matter what happens in life, every person has to dust him/herself off and stand on his/her feet. It may not be easy in the beginning with all the physical and emotional trauma associated with burn injuries but no matter what you are going through, it won't last forever and you can choose a fresh start whenever you decide to. So it's your decision to change your life and start living your life again. Don't stick to the past, live for today. The good old days will not return again but the days ahead of you may be better than these old days.
The important thing after a burn injury is that you are still alive and you can rebuild your life. Set a goal and don't let the pain from the injury set you back from accomplishing your goals and dreams. Don't let negative thoughts seep into your mind because they will have a negative effect on you and will pull you backwards. When you are in pain, reach out to friends and family as they may be able to help. Make the best of each day in your life and leave the past to the past. Fight back with a positive attitude and a strong will.