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news News Monday, May 13, 2019 Monday, May 13, 2019 12:02 PM - Monday, May 13, 2019 12:02 PM

Jason's story

A young man thrives after sustaining burns that were once considered a death sentence

Jason's story

In July of 1993, Jason was a typical 12-year-old boy growing up in the Calgary area of Canada. He and his younger brother, Ryan, were seeking a summer adventure not too far from home, so one night they decided to sleep in the family camper trailer in their back yard. Jason’s recollection of what happened that night is still foggy, but he remembers getting up in the early morning hours to use the camper bathroom. The bathroom exploded, probably due to a buildup of methane. His parents were awakened by the noise to discover both boys screaming in the back yard.

Maurice, the boys’ father, quickly dressed while the boys’ mother put Jason in a cold shower. Maurice then drove both children to the hospital.

As it turned out, Ryan was much less severely burned and was able to be treated at a local hospital. Jason, on the other hand, sustained third-degree burns to 85 percent of his body, a devastating injury that only a decade or so before would have likely been lethal. A physician at the hospital knew about the reputation for pediatric burn care at Shriners Hospitals for Children and contacted a friend who was a Shriner. Arrangements were made through their local Shrine Temple, and soon Jason and his mother were transported by private plane to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Cincinnati.

Jason’s first memory after walking into the Calgary hospital was waking up at the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital. “The first days, they didn’t share any prognosis with my parents, just factual data, because they didn’t think I would ever go home,” Jason said, tears welling in his eyes.

Though he did not know it at the time, Jason was in the best care possible. The doctors and nurses at the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital are adept at healing children with burns, and its research department had advanced treatment to the point that children with major burns could not only survive, but could live normal lives.

Slowly but surely, Jason began to respond to his treatment. His breathing and feeding tubes were removed, making it easier to work on healing. Soon, he was playing video games with the boy in the next room, and the nurses would even wheel him out to their station at night when he could not sleep because of the time difference. After 53 days, he was allowed to go home.

Over the next decade, Jason would return for at least 20 additional surgeries, the final one in 2000. “I never let it hold me back,” he said. “If someone said, ‘you can’t,’ I would prove them wrong.”

Today he is a busy man, a married father of three, and coach of his kids’ hockey team when not working in the HVAC industry. On a recent training trip to the U.S., Jason decided to pay a visit to the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital. He and his father toured the hospital, recalling details about the then-new building and reconnecting with many of the staff members and volunteers who are still healing children, body and spirit. “I will never forget this place and what it did for me,” he said, tearing up once again.

Jason, one year after his burn