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news News Wednesday, October 9, 2019 Wednesday, October 9, 2019 8:51 AM - Wednesday, October 9, 2019 8:51 AM

Nicole's story

Nicole's story

This past August marked the 28th anniversary of Nicole’s accident involving a fondue set. Her burns were so severe that she almost permanently lost her sight, and she required multiple rounds of surgery and skin grafts. Now she looks back on her time at the Boston Shriners Hospital fondly, and recently shared her story of strength and recovery with the Boston Board of Governors.

On a hot summer night in 1991, 10-year-old Nicole was helping to prepare her favorite family meal: fondue with cheese, breads and meat. The fondue set was a copper pot set upon a wire holder with a candle flame underneath, and they had used it dozens of times. The cheese was heating up when suddenly the pot exploded, causing Nicole to suffer severe burns. Within minutes, Nicole was rushed to the local hospital. Once she arrived, doctors examined Nicole’s injuries. They explained to her parents that they did not have the capacity to treat her, and they transported Nicole to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.

The family learned that Nicole sustained burns on over 30% of her body – her arms, face, stomach and back. The damage to her corneas was severe, and her doctors were concerned that she would lose her sight permanently. At the Boston Shriners Hospital, Nicole began her first round of surgeries, and she eventually had over 250 staples and 100 stitches. Within a week, her eyesight started to return. She remained hospitalized until October, missing friends, piano lessons, ballet class and her first day of fifth grade.

Nicole was tutored while in the hospital so she wouldn’t fall behind in school work and could join her friends back at school as soon as possible. She also spent time in the playroom and loved participating in the arts and crafts program. Her parents still have some of those special crafts.

In October of 1991, Nicole was released from the hospital with a long-term care plan that involved wearing body compression garments and a hard plastic face mask 24/7 for the entire year. She was able to return to her ballet class and continued playing the piano, not allowing the compression garments to stand in her way. Over the next eight years, Nicole received more than 30 reconstructive surgeries until she was 18.

The Boston Shriners Hospital treats patients regardless of their ability to pay, so Nicole says the hospital not only saved herself, but also her family. “My family and I are eternally grateful for the many years of care I received, the culture at Shriners and the amazing staff," she said. "We are forever in your debt and my mission is to give back and help others as you have done for me.”