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Three-Year-Old Zoey is Thriving After Care at Shriners Children’s Boston

Zoey and her parents are thankful for the care they received at Shriners Children's Boston.

Zoey is a thriving 3-year-old benefiting from Shriners Children’s Boston’s specialized pediatric burn care. When she was just 2, Zoey arrived at the hospital in February 2023 after sustaining scald injuries while helping her mother, Isabel, cook macaroni and cheese. “Zoey was on a stool and while stepping off, she slipped and fell backwards, hitting the boiling pot of water on the stove with her head,” Isabel explained. Zoey’s mother, who is an emergency room nurse, along with Zoey’s father, Chris, removed her clothing, placed her in a cool shower and called 911. “We were taken by ambulance to the emergency room and then transferred to Shriners Children's Boston,” said Isabel.

Scalds are the leading cause of burn injury in young children under the age of 5, and are most often caused by spills of hot food or drinks. Robert Sheridan, M.D., chief of staff and director of the burn service at Shriners Children's Boston, treated Zoey. Dr. Sheridan explained that children are most deeply burned where they are dressed. “The contact time and the temperature both contribute to the depth of the burn,” said Dr. Sheridan. “If the clothes are saturated, that contact time is a little bit longer so it’s important to get them off.”

It was a frightening time for Zoey’s family when they first arrived at Shriners Children’s Boston. She coded and was admitted to the to MassGeneral pediatric intensive care unit. “The Shriners Children’s Boston staff regularly checked in on Zoey and our family during that time at MassGeneral,” said Isabel.

Upon returning to Shriners Children’s Boston, a plan was put in place to treat Zoey’s scalds. Dr. Sheridan explained that there are several approaches to helping patients with these types of injuries. “If you think the burn is going to heal, you want to go on a pathway of topical care and supportive care. If you think the burn needs to be grafted because it’s so deep and there’s fear of infection, you want to go to the operating room earlier,” said Dr. Sheridan.

He went on to explain that the burn may change or develop over time. “The burns always look deeper several days into it. So there can be uncertainty sometimes which direction the wound will take. It’s important to share this with the family and explain how treatment may change.” For Zoey’s care, Isabel explained that she had skin grafting on her arms, shoulder and back.

Take everything one step at a time. Children are some of the most resilient individuals. Allow yourself to grieve, but also allow yourself to see the beauty beneath the burns.
Isabel, Zoey's mother

While receiving care at Shriners Children’s Boston, the staff made the hospital feel like Zoey’s second home. “Everyone made sure Zoey’s favorite books, toys and bubbles were kept in her room for her to use,” Isabel said. She also remembers one of Zoey’s favorite nurses, Sam, loved having Zoey as her patient, calling her “feisty.” “Sam always took the time to not only provide medical care, but to play with Zoey and interact with our family, too.”

After seeing Zoey improve during her burn treatment at Shriners Children’s Boston, Isabel provided hope to other families in similar situations. “Take everything one step at a time. Children are some of the most resilient individuals. Allow yourself to grieve, but also allow yourself to see the beauty beneath the burns,” she said. Isabel reminded families that there is a community of support, and to accept help when it’s offered.

Now one year after Zoey’s injuries, she comes to Shriners Children’s Boston every other month for follow-ups with physical therapy staff, along with the surgical and plastics teams. “Shriners Children's Boston is one of the best hospitals in the world. We're thankful to be within reach of this incredible hospital that saved our daughter's life,” said Isabel and Chris. “This community has changed our lives for the better, and we are grateful for every moment with our amazing burn survivor, Zoey.”

Zoey is an active child who participates in soccer and gymnastics. She also loves spending time with animals, especially her dog, Baloo. She loves and misses her other dog, Duke, who recently passed away in February 2024. Her family also participated in Shriners Children's Boston’s signature fundraising event, the Boston Haunted Walk. “Zoey loves Halloween, and we thought it would be a great way to interact with other families who have been through similar situations, thanking the individuals who took care of Zoey, all while having a fun family day,” said Isabel. “We even took a picture with Dr. Sheridan, and Zoey in her Ariel costume!”

Meet Zoey

She is thriving and is an active child after receiving treatment at Shriners Children's Boston for burn injuries.

zoey wearing costume

Zoey smiles in her Halloween costume while attending the Boston Haunted Walk, the signature fundraiser for Shriners Children's Boston.

Zoey outside in snow

Zoey is all smiles while playing in the snow.

Zoey in stroller with provider

Zoey with Rob Sheridan, M.D., who is the chief of staff and director of the burn service at Shriners Children's Boston.

zoey riding toy

Zoey rides on a scooter at the hospital.

zoey with mom

Zoey and her mom, Isabel, make funny faces while at the hospital.

zoey playing video game

Zoey plays a video game while waiting at Shriners Children's Boston.

Zoey painting

Zoey enjoyed painting while at Shriners Children's Boston.

zoey playing soccer

Zoey loves to participate in soccer and gymnastics during her free time.

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