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news News Thursday, January 4, 2018 Thursday, January 4, 2018 11:51 AM - Thursday, January 4, 2018 11:51 AM

Steven's story

Young boy from Ecuador receives lifesaving care for traumatic burn injuries

Steven's story

When 11-year-old Steven first arrived at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston from Ecuador, he was quiet and reserved. He didn’t smile and barely talked, choosing to only communicate with his big sister Karina. Given the circumstances that brought him to Boston, his behavior was not surprising. Over time, however, his true vibrant personality emerged, as the wounds from his traumatic burns healed.

In his home country of Ecuador, Steven was attacked by bullies who lit him on fire. He suffered third degree burns over 65 percent of his body, including his arms, torso and upper thighs. Doctors in Ecuador did not expect Steven to live because of the severity of his injury. His grave condition was compounded by a medical complication that caused one of his kidneys to fail. Steven was placed on dialysis as doctors worked to stabilize him. The assault was so horrific it made national news in Ecuador for weeks and even reached Dr. Miguel Beltran, owner and manager of New Seasons Cleaners in Needham, Massachusetts. Beltran, who was a physician in Ecuador before moving to the U.S., immediately stepped into action. Determined to get treatment for Steven as he has done for other children, he reached out to the Boston Shriners Hospital through one of his customers – Professional Relations Liaison John Sugden.

Last March, Sugden and Beltran traveled to Ecuador to visit U.S. embassy officials, the Health Ministry and the Abou Saad Shrine Club in the capital city of Quito, with the goal of establishing a relationship between the government and the hospital. While in Ecuador, the U.S. embassy and other influential supporters pledged to facilitate the transfer of children with burn injuries to the Boston Shriners Hospital. When the hospital agreed they could provide life-changing care for Steven, President Lenin Moreno offered his government plane, fully equipped for medical transport, once Steven was stable enough to fly.

When he arrived at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, Steven underwent multiple surgeries to close his burn wounds. Steven’s treatment also included physical and occupational therapy, which was difficult and painful, but helped Steven recover both physically and psychologically from his injury. Lori Turgeon, senior physical therapist, said, “My team and I spent a lot of time building trust with Steven. When we needed him to do a particular stretch, he had to trust that there was a reason for it.” Helping Steven understand that he could trust his care providers was the key to his successful recovery.

Throughout his treatment, Steven’s 21-year-old sister, Karina, stayed with him. Karina took time away from her studies in social work to take care of her brother. Turgeon reflected on Karina’s role stating, “Karina was the perfect person to accompany Steven because she really understood, from a psychological perspective, how she needed to manage the situation so he would be successful.”

On his road to recovery, Steven received support from family and friends but also from those he admired. Steven is a huge soccer fan and received a surprise video from an Ecuadorian soccer player on Manchester United, a professional soccer club in England. Although his parents and other siblings were not physically with him during his treatment, they supported him as much as they could from Ecuador. He would often call his brother and mom during his therapy sessions.

With so much support in place, Steven’s confidence grew and by the time he transferred to outpatient care, his true personality emerged as an outgoing, kind, happy and talkative 11-year-old. “Once he was an outpatient, he was like a different kid,” recounted Turgeon. “He would make jokes and be very interactive with all the staff; he would hug everybody and show he was grateful. He was able to really express himself and who he truly is as a person, which was really nice to see.” Steven is now thrilled to be back home in Ecuador. Karina recently sent a note and several photos showing Steven and Karina smiling, happy and grateful for the work of his doctors, nurses, and therapists at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.

Steven and his sister 


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