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news News Friday, October 2, 2020 Friday, October 2, 2020 2:39 PM - Friday, October 2, 2020 2:39 PM

Carrie’s inspiring story of healing

Former Boston Shriners Hospital patient returns to speak at the Thall Symposium

Carrie’s inspiring story of healing

Just three days before her 17th birthday, in April 2006, Carrie was in a horrific car accident less than five miles from her home in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The crash left Carrie trapped and unconscious in her car. Local residents heard the accident and immediately rushed outside to help. An off-duty firefighter and a carpenter also happened upon the scene. The carpenter used his hammer to break the window and both men worked to free Carrie from the wreckage right before the SUV exploded into flames. She sustained second-, third- and fourth-degree burns over 70% of her body and suffered a serious brain injury. She was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital, then transferred to the Boston Shriners Hospital. Carrie remained an inpatient until November of 2006 when she transitioned to outpatient care.

Doctors put Carrie into a medically induced coma for three months. Carrie said she “woke up to a whole new life and a whole new body.” She recalled, “I woke up from my coma missing my dominant right hand and with half of my left foot amputated. My right foot was also removed. Doctors wanted to leave the ultimate decision up to me as to how much of my legs to amputate.”

In consultation with her Boston care team and providers at the Springfield Shriners Hospital, Carrie decided to amputate evenly below the knee for the best prosthetic function. Carrie received her first pair of prosthetic legs the week before Christmas in 2006, returned to high school for her second semester of senior year, and graduated on time in 2007.

Carrie has some powerful advice for other patients who are dealing with similar severe injuries. “Trust someone who has been there: There is hope in your darkest moments. Do not be too hard on yourself – allow a small amount of time when you need it to cry it out – but don’t stay there too long. Shift your perspective to focus on the good. You are alive and you have purpose on earth. Life after a burn injury is not easy by any means, but a full and abundant future still exists for you as long as you put in the work,” she said.

On Tuesday October 13, Carrie will make a virtual return to the Boston Shriners Hospital from her home in Texas. She will share her story at the Abraham Thall and Sadye Stone Thall virtual educational symposium. This year’s theme is Pediatric Burn Care for First Responders. “Everyone who played a role in my care made all the right decisions to save my life and get me back on my feet. Burn injuries are the most debilitating and disfiguring injuries the human body can endure – and thanks to modern medicine and skilled, dedicated medical professionals, I am now thriving more than 14 years after my injury,” Carrie shared.

Prior to the car accident, Carrie was a typical Dartmouth High School junior and star soccer player. She played on highly competitive club soccer teams, traveling around the United States and Canada. Carrie also competed in Italy when she was only 14 years old. She was one of two goalkeepers from the Northeast selected for an Olympic development program. Colleges and universities throughout the country took notice and Carrie was heavily recruited.

Carrie started college in Massachusetts, then transferred to Mississippi College, graduating summa cum laude in 2012. While in Mississippi, Carrie joined a gym to become more active and occasionally kicked the soccer ball around again.

She also started doing promotional work for the Boston Shriners Hospital as a patient ambassador, and was featured in a commercial for the facility. That is when Carrie’s interest in public relations began, which led to her current career in communications. She moved to Texas for a job opportunity as the public relations specialist at the Houston Shriners Hospital. Now 31, Carrie lives in Texas with her husband, Justin. The couple share their home with three active dogs. She is currently working as a senior communications consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. She enjoys camping with Justin and their dogs. She likes to spend time walking and hiking, lifting weights and writing.

Carrie credits the care she received at the Boston Shriners Hospital as helping her succeed after the car accident. “I received state-of-the-art, family-centered care with no financial burden to my family. The multi-disciplinary team approached my recovery from every angle – my overall physical health, my emotional wellbeing, physical therapy and occupational therapy, social work and more. I even stayed on track with some school tutoring while I was an inpatient,” she said.

“There are so many people who made an impact on me at the Boston Shriners Hospital – I would hate to leave anybody out! Dr. Rob Sheridan, who is an impressive surgeon, but also a phenomenal human being, led my care," said Carrie. "I also grew incredibly close to the nursing staff and PT/OT teams – they truly became a part of our family. If I needed to cry, they would be there to listen. If I wanted to be a silly teenager and jam out to music, they would sing and dance with me. If I wanted to be a dramatic teenager, they knew how to guide me in the right direction. No matter what, they were always there. I loved becoming an outpatient and returning to the hospital to see 'old friends' and show them how far I had come. I still stay connected with some to this day!”

Carrie with friend