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news News Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Wednesday, July 24, 2019 10:42 AM - Wednesday, July 24, 2019 10:42 AM

Burn safety – Kiara's story

Burn safety – Kiara's story

Kiara is one of our very inspiring patients who have received extensive treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston due to a childhood burn injury. Throughout the years, Kiara has persevered through skin-grafting and several surgeries with the help of our dedicated physicians and care teams. This is her story.

By Kiara

Before my second birthday, I was involved in an accident with scalding water that left me with third-degree burns covering my left thigh. I was brought to a county hospital where they told me I had second-degree burns, and instructed me to cover the area and apply ointment daily.

In the days following the accident, I was running very high fevers. In desperation, my mom called Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, hoping to get some help. The staff told my mom to bring me in for an evaluation immediately. I was admitted shortly after with a diagnosis of third-degree burns that would require skin-grafting and several surgeries.

I am very grateful that I don’t remember the pain of the accident or early hospitalization well because I was so young at the time.

I received treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston until my early twenties. Boston Shriners Hospital has always felt to me like a judgement-free sanctuary. I have profound memories of sitting in the waiting area of the clinic and seeing kids of all ages who had all obviously experienced incredible physical and emotional pain. It taught me at an early age that there is suffering in this world, but also that there are people who dedicate their lives to healing those who have suffered.

I was very involved in dance all through elementary and middle school, but in my pre-teens I started to feel uncomfortable about wearing costumes that showed my scar. I was always answering questions and people would stare. However, the nurses at the clinic told me to answer these questions by saying, “Yes I was burned. Everyone is unique, and this is me!”

They also arranged for me to visit the unbelievably sweet makeup artist down the hall who showed me how to apply makeup to hide some of the discoloration of my scar. She sent me home with a number of makeup products, including waterproof makeup for beach days. I remember she made me feel so glamorous at the time.

In high school, the positioning of my scarring began to shift as I started to get taller and gain some weight. The scar tissue had tightened to the point where you could see a large indentation on my leg when I would wear jeans or workout pants.  

Even though this didn’t cause me pain and was more of a superficial side effect of growing into my adult body, the doctors at Boston Shriners Hospital decided to do a Z-plasty surgery to loosen the scar tissue, so that I would no longer have the indentation on my leg. This surgery was monumental for me, as it got rid of the indentation on my leg and transformed the way I felt about myself during my teens.

In one of my final clinic visits, Dr. Donelan [Chief of Staff Matthias B. Donelan, M.D.] said, “You know, your leg looks perfect, but I think we can make it look even more perfect!” He then did three laser surgeries that completely changed the coloring of my scar and the texture of my skin. After healing from the surgeries, my life-long friend began to cry after seeing my leg because she could not believe what a beautiful job the doctors had done.

Currently, I work as a private jet broker selling time on executive aircraft. In 2018, I was featured in USA Today for my work, and I’ve recently had the privilege of being able to assist with arranging a flight to transfer a heart for a patient to receive a new heart. I’m very fortunate for my time at Shriners, and all the incredible people I got to meet there. I’m forever committed to giving back in any way that I can.

Learn more about our plastic, reconstructive and laser treatment.

Kiara as a child with visible scar