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Anaheli's Story

From Belize to Boston for burn care.

When Anaheli was 2 years old and living in her home country of Belize, she slipped in her kitchen and came into contact with a pot of boiling hot liquid that her grandpa had placed on the floor while making tamales, resulting in a serious scald injury on both of her thighs.

“At that moment, I felt like the world was falling down on me,” Anaheli’s mom Sandra said as she looked back on the accident. “It was the saddest day of our lives.”

From Belize to Boston for Exceptional Burn Care

Sandra and some of her family members immediately brought Anaheli to a local hospital, and then to the main public hospital in Belize City. There, a pediatric surgeon told the terrified family that they would be unable to provide Anaheli with the best care – given the large size of her burn and the lack of local burn care expertise.

The surgeon referred the family to the Burn Victim Mercy Fund Organization, which helps pediatric patients in Belize get the high-quality burn care they need in the United States by arranging travel logistics and covering costs, as well as offering ongoing support for patients who must return to the hospital regularly as they grow. The organization quickly secured a spot for Anaheli at Shriners Children’s Boston and transported her via air ambulance.

Compassionate Care and Support for the Whole Family

“My overall experience at Shriners [Children's] has been a blessing for both my daughter and myself,” Sandra said. “From the first moment I arrived, I was welcomed with open arms. They really took care of me emotionally and mentally.”

My overall experience at Shriners has been a blessing for both my daughter and myself.
Sandra, Boston

Anaheli stayed at Shriners Children’s Boston under the care of Robert Sheridan, M.D., director of burn services, for about six weeks, during which she underwent two skin grafting surgeries. Her recovery process was incredibly nerve-wracking and devastating for the family since she was so young and had never before been under such intense medical care. “Anaheli was very scared since she had never been hospitalized before,” Sandra explained. “There were some very sad and uncomfortable moments because she cried in response to everything.”

Throughout these tough times, Sandra said that watching the doctors and nurses care for Anaheli with such love, compassion and respect made her feel more at ease. One of Sandra’s favorite moments at Shriners Children’s Boston is when Jackie, a child life specialist, surprised Anaheli for her birthday with balloons, treats and gifts. “Anaheli was not feeling well that day, but as soon as she bit into her cupcake, you could see how happy she was,” Sandra said. “I felt very happy as well.”

Moving Forward After Burn Injury

Now 3 years old, Anaheli is a loving, smart little girl who enjoys spending time with her family, playing hide-and-seek, going to the playground, and caring for her chickens and her puppy Snowy. She is a total sweetheart, and is incredibly strong, brave and resilient.

“Anaheli is our little warrior – in the most difficult time of her life, she didn’t lose her faith,” Sandra said. “It is a slow healing process, but with the help of Shriners Children’s Boston and the Burn Victim Mercy Fund Organization, Anaheli is recovering, and we will always be thankful for the help we received.”

Connecting with Child Life

Child life specialist Jackie kept Anaheli busy throughout her stay with medical play and a discharge party when she was released.

Anaheli and Jackie

Anaheli and Jackie engage in medical play with Play-Doh.

Jackie, Anaheli and her mom Sandra

Jackie, Anaheli and her mom Sandra at Anaheli's discharge party.

Anaheli smiling

Anaheli was all smiles at her party!

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