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From Peru to Boston for Specialized Scar Treatment

After 25 years, Chris returned to Shriners Children's Boston.

In 1987, Chris suffered a severe injury at home caused by boiling water, resulting in third degree burns over 50% of his body. At the time, Chris was 10 years old, living with his family in Peru.

Doctors at a children’s hospital there managed Chris’ initial care, performing skin graft surgeries on his wounds. After those surgeries, Chris developed keloids (raised scars), which can occur due to excessive scar tissue growth and are very uncomfortable.

After three years at the local children’s hospital, Chris’ family took him to a private clinic for further evaluation. Providers there assessed the keloid scarring and determined that Chris needed specialized burn care. The clinic then referred Chris and his family to Shriners Children's Boston.

Chris traveled to the United States for the first time with his father, arriving in New York City where his grandparents lived, and then making his way to Boston with his father by train. Chris was at Shriners Children's Boston from 1990 through 1994. He was an inpatient for several months before transitioning to outpatient care, returning about every six months for surgeries and procedures.

Chris recalls feeling homesick when he first arrived in Boston. “I felt heartbroken and I missed my mother. Being away from my family was hard but over time I think I developed responsibility at a younger age and it taught me a lot about how to be independent.”

As Scars Diminish, Confidence Rises

Doctors at Shriners Children's Boston performed reconstructive surgery and skin grafting on the burned areas of his body over the course of five years. Chris recalls feeling insecure because of the keloid scars, particularly when wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

“After surgeries and treatments at Shriners, the keloid scarring diminished considerably and over the years I became more confident of myself and put all the insecurity I felt before behind me,” Chris recalled.

After surgeries and treatments at Shriners, the keloid scarring diminished considerably and over the years I became more confident of myself, and put all the insecurity I felt before, behind me.
Chris, former Boston patient

Looking Back with Gratitude and Nostalgia

Chris frequently traveled to Shriners Children's Boston by train from New York, sometimes alone. He has fond memories of Shriners wearing their signature Fezzes, meeting his train at South Station.

“I have so many memorable moments that I will always cherish and carry with me. All the staff treated and welcomed me with care and kindness. I am especially grateful to Shriners Children's Boston staff member Susan, who was director of social services at the time. She facilitated my intake when I first came to Shriners. She always went above and beyond to help me feel at home. When I was a patient, I could not speak English so there was also a language barrier. Susan helped me navigate that,” Chris said.

As someone who has sustained extensive burn injury and gone through the healing process, Chris has some insights to share with others going through a similar experience. “Don't let people or circumstances bring you down. Continue to fight and overcome any stigma that people suffering from severe burns may face.”

Now in his forties, Chris loves playing sports, including football and soccer. He enjoys spending time outdoors, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. “After I completed my treatment at Shriners, I became a U.S. citizen and made this beautiful country my new home,” Chris said.

Revisiting a Familiar Route 25 Years Later

Chris always knew he wanted to return to Shriners Children's Boston someday, to see the building where he spent so much time and to say thank you. “My girlfriend, Chantel, was touched by my story and my memories of Shriners. She encouraged me to go ahead and take that trip to Boston so we did. We planned our journey to Boston the same way I would travel from New York as a child. I wanted to relive that experience from so many years ago. We bought train tickets to South Station. From there we walked to the hospital,” he said.

After more than 25 years, Chris returned to Shriners Children's Boston, made a donation to the hospital and reflected on a formative time in his life. “I will never forget my time at Shriners. I am grateful for the people I met and the care I received,” he said.

Meet Chris

Chris received specialized scar treatment for his burn injuries.

Chris as a child

Chris as a child.

Chris standing on big rock giving thumbs up

Now in his 40s, Chris enjoys spending time outdoors.

Chris standing on outside with Boston city behind him

Chris on a recent winter adventure.