"I was standing on the stool to make some chocolate milk and the stool came out from underneath me. On the way down, I hit the pot of boiling water."
"I was in the kitchen with my mom while she was making spaghetti for dinner,” Lucas Parra said. “I used to use a stool to reach the counter to make a drink because I was pretty small. I was standing on the stool to make some chocolate milk and the stool came out from underneath me. On the way down, I hit the pot of boiling water."
The water splashed onto the right side of the 10-year-old’s body, causing third degree burns to his arm and shoulder. Lucas was in the MUSC Children's Hospital for a week and ultimately needed skin grafts.
Three years later, the scars are visible but don't bother him, his mother said.
"It doesn't limit him at all. Any time someone asks him about his scars, he usually takes it in stride and sometimes uses it as an opportunity," Ashlee Parra said. "He went to talk to his class afterward about what not to do."
‘What not to do’ is the focus of a new burn prevention video starring Lucas. He offers burn prevention tips as himself and voices a cartoon showing how he was burned.
|Lucas at home with 'Burns don't take a holiday' comic book.|
Lucas and his brother Nico were also part of the inspiration behind the comic book, “Burns don’t take a holiday.”
In the story, a talking fire hose named Fred and a fire hydrant named Squirt point out the burn hazards for every holiday - from hot cooking oil to candles to sparklers.
The video and comic book are part of a larger effort, funded by a $200,000 contribution from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and awarded to pediatric burn surgeon Aaron Lesher and the MUSC Children's Health burn team, to protect kids from burns and make it easier for children who are burned to get expert care without having to travel far. The video and 22,000 comic books are being distributed through the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium's (AHEC) outreach system.
Ragan DuBose-Morris, director of the Office for Telehealth Education at the South Carolina AHEC and MUSC, said school nurses will help hand out the comic books to kids. "We're hoping to reach as many of the low-income, rural and Title I schools in South Carolina as we can with a nice geographic distribution, so we're not just focusing in the Lowcountry or the Pee Dee area."
The funding came with several goals in addition to the creation of the educational comic book and video. They include:
- Developing an app to connect the parents of children who have been burned with nurses and doctors, so families don't have to make as many follow-up trips to MUSC Children's Health.
- Offering telehealth to more rural hospitals, giving them access to MUSC Health burn specialists via secure video consultations that can be done right at patients' bedsides.
- Using school clinics to reach about 2,000 kids through live and videotaped education sessions with MUSC Health burn specialists.
MUSC Children's Health is the only hospital in South Carolina with a burn unit for children. Lesher said the gift allows them to reach and protect children across the state. "With help from this generous grant from the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, we are able to find a new way to deliver expert burn care for the children of South Carolina and develop a robust burn prevention strategy."
Pediatric burn nurse Ryan Howard hopes that strategy will keep kids from being burned in the first place. "We actually want to see fewer patients."
Lucas likes being part of the campaign. "I'm a big talker," he said. "I just wanted to talk to them."