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Burn patient inspires Honolulu hospital staff

Life-saving gift from Shriners Hospitals for Children remembered 20 years later

Burn patient inspires Honolulu hospital staff

Everyday, Honolulu Shriners Hospital employee Angela Keen is grateful to carry on the mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Her cousin, Cory Keen, is a former Shriners Hospital patient and he is the reason why Angela works at the hospital. During a recent visit, the two recalled a vivid memory from 24 years ago. The conversation started when Angela asked her cousin, “What happened when you got burned?"

It was November 4, 1994. Cory was 10 years old at the time and he was playing unsupervised. An explosion burned Cory over most of his body. Flight for Life transported him to a Denver hospital. Cory lost his life three times. Each time, emergency responders brought him back to life. Physicians in Denver were considering amputating his right arm and his right leg.

Around the time of Cory’s accident, his uncles were together at a family holiday gathering. The Keen brothers wanted to help their nephew. Cory’s uncle, Wallace Keen (Angela’s father), knew of a friend who was a Shriner. Wallace asked his friend if Shriners Hospitals for Children could help his nephew and the rest is history.

Medical staff evaluated Cory’s burns and the severity of his situation. Cory remembers being in a great deal of pain. The Shriners transported Cory from Denver to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Galveston. In Denver, Cory was on the highest dose of morphine possible. He said it still was not enough to quell the pain. Cory lost his ability to walk and he contracted a staph infection. Doctors told him he would never have children. He had no self-esteem left and at age 10, he was contemplating suicide.

But after just two weeks in the Galveston Shriners Hospital, it was a different story. He was walking. The same week he took his first steps, he learned he was going to be able to keep his limbs. Shriners Hospital medical staff helped him learn to cope with the pain. He realized feeling sorry for himself was not going to work. He was committed to overcoming this. Many months later, he found himself sharing his story repeatedly in front of thousands of people. Today, Cory Keen is a happy and healthy adult. He has two beautiful kids and a new baby was just added to his growing family. 

Angela feels it’s no coincidence that she started working at Shriners Hospitals for Children on the 20th anniversary of her cousin’s burn accident. “I come to work every day grateful knowing my cousin is alive today because of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Now it’s my turn to give back,” said Keen.

Pictured (top right) Cory Keen, his Uncle Wallace Keen and Angela Keen.