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news News Tuesday, August 20, 2019 Tuesday, August 20, 2019 10:42 AM - Tuesday, August 20, 2019 10:42 AM

Kenia's story

Kenia's story

Kenia, 21, came to the Boston Shriners Hospital from El Salvador when she was only 12 years old after suffering severe burns from an accident involving loose wires at the mall. Even though it was many years ago, she remembers the event and the experiences that followed quite vividly.

Upon her arrival at the hospital, Kenia was rushed into surgery for an emergency amputation of her arm. Her mother remained glued to her side the whole time. “Of course, as mothers are, she tried to protect me and wrapped a blanket around me, so I couldn’t see [my amputated arm]. But when they moved me from one bed to the other, the sheet fell off and I saw myself. So in the beginning, I didn’t want anyone to talk or look at me — only my mom,” Kenia shared. Kenia felt she would be ostracized as a result of her injury.

Kenia’s mother was also severely impacted by the accident, as her sadness made her almost unrecognizable to her daughter. Kenia’s bravery, however, kept them both strong through the journey. Another supportive figure in this difficult time was Kenia’s doctor, Joseph Upton, M.D. Dr. Upton was there every step of the way during her treatment. Every time she would cry, he would find a way to reassure and comfort her.

“I have really developed and progressed since the accident. I didn’t think I’d be able to live in the same way, or do the things I loved anymore like basketball or dance. I stopped riding my bike. I didn’t think I’d be able to drive on my own, put on makeup, or dress myself. But now, I can do all of that,” said Kenia. Relearning and adjusting to functioning was a challenge, but with practice and her support system at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, she has grown stronger than ever.

Having just completed her first year of college, she reflects on how receiving a prosthetic changed her life. Even though she’s only 21, Kenia has many big dreams for the future, including working at a hospital so she can one day help other children reach their goals and progress through treatment, just like she did.

“From the bottom of my heart, I’m so grateful for everyone at Shriners,” Kenia said. “They returned my life back to me. At first I couldn’t walk, and now I can. I came here with my body incomplete, and they fixed and reconstructed me.”

Kenia with care team

Pictured: (top right) Kenia with her prosthetic arm, (bottom) Kenia’s recovery process wouldn’t have been possible without her amazing care team. From the left: Sandy Barrett, care manager; Miriam Kearns, interpreter; Richard Ehrlichman, M.D., surgeon; Taya Cloonan, care manager.