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news News Tuesday, July 30, 2019 Tuesday, July 30, 2019 10:14 AM - Tuesday, July 30, 2019 10:14 AM

Jessie's story

From patient to performer – Boston patient is singing a song of survival

Jessie's story

Jessie was a happy, thriving 7-year-old, living in Cork, Ireland, with her family when she was involved in a terrible accident. Her skirt caught fire on a gas space heater, leaving her with third-degree burns to her thighs and lower torso. Initially, Jessie went to a hospital in Dublin for care. She was in excruciating pain and needed extensive skin grafting to cover her open burn wounds. Her case was too complex for the providers in Ireland and her life was in danger. Jessie needed specialized burn care in the United States.

Jessie’s aunt worked on Martha’s Vineyard, and her employer knew about Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, the only burn center in New England verified by the American Burn Association that is just for kids. Jessie was accepted as a patient and transferred across the Atlantic Ocean to the Boston Shriners Hospital. Her mom, Liz, describes that moment when they arrived in Boston as a turning point. In Ireland, she did not know if her daughter would survive. When she got to Boston, she knew she was going to have a bright future.

When Jessie arrived, she was critically ill with large open wounds. She required intensive care and many trips to the operating room. After some time, she was able to return home to Ireland and go back to school. As Jessie grew, she developed contractures from the scars on her legs, which made it difficult for her to move.

From a young age, Jessie dreamed of a career in musical theater. Her care team at the Boston Shriners Hospital was committed to making sure her scars did not keep her from the stage. She returned to Boston for reconstructive operations that helped her maintain normal leg function. She likely has one more procedure this year, before she turns 21.

Jessie is following her dreams of becoming a performer. She recently took part in a Broadway dance program in New York and has performed in London. Musical theater not only helps her express herself through singing, but the movement has enabled her to maintain flexibility and mobility during her recovery.

Jessie will be in New England this summer, not to perform, but to be a counselor at a burn camp for children from around the world who have survived life-altering burn injuries. Jessie is able to share her experiences to help other burn survivors.

Jessie, you are a true star and we know your future is going to be very bright.

Jessie with Robert Sheridan, M.D.