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Gabriel’s Story: Mother of Baby Treated for Scald Burns Shares Message of Hope

“Having children is one of the greatest and most rewarding human experiences. We had our first, a sweet baby boy, in July of 2022," said Christina.

"As soon as he entered the world, our first instinct was to protect him at all costs. However, that isn’t always possible. Mistakes happen and when they do, it’s the scariest feeling in the world.” She and her partner Mohammed welcomed their beautiful son Gabriel with all the joys and worries that new parents experience.

Just a few months later, on Christina’s second day back at work, their babysitter gave Gabriel a bath in the bathroom sink. The baby was playing with the faucet with his toes and moved the knob, causing scalding hot water to fill the sink. In an instant, Gabriel received serious second-degree burns to his body. Christina felt helpless when she learned her precious boy had been burned. She didn’t know how to react, how to feel, or what to say. Everything felt like a chaotic blur. She called 911 and Gabriel was brought to Massachusetts General Hospital before being transferred to Shriners Children’s Boston.

Christina and Mohammed knew they had brought their son to the right place as soon as they arrived at Shriners Children’s Boston, which is the only exclusively pediatric verified burn center in New England. “Everything sort of calmed down and I felt like I was being taken care of by family,” she said. “Although the dressing changes were traumatizing for Gabriel, the nurses and staff were so comforting. For the week that we lived there, it felt like home.”

The acute burn care team had the expertise to treat Gabriel’s scald burns and fortunately, the baby did not need skin grafts or other surgeries. Social work intern Deja Knudsen recalls how she spoke with the family about follow-up care for scarring. Serious burns will leave scars that may require intervention as a child grows. Shriners Children’s Boston plastic surgeons often use innovative lasers to treat scars from burns or other injuries without having to do surgery. Laser technologies can improve mobility and the appearance of scars.

During the week that Gabriel was a patient at Shriners Children’s Boston, the hospital was buzzing with activities for the holiday season. Santa Claus even stopped by for a visit and posed for a picture with Gabriel and Christina. There was one visit, however, that stood out above the others. “Even though my baby got to meet Santa, his favorite would have to be the musical therapist, Kim. She made him smile and showed us a side of him we thought we’d never see again,” said Christina.

By the end of our session, Gabriel was giving us some of those happy shrieks and there were tearful moments for mom. ‘We got our baby back!’ she told me.
Kim Schlesinger, music therapist, Shriners Children's Boston

Kim Schlesinger is a board-certified music therapist who is a member of the therapeutic services team at Shriners Children’s Boston. She remembers Gabriel as a sweet, smiling baby whose mom Christina said used to give happy shrieks before he was injured. As Kim played the guitar and maracas, Gabriel showed all the positive developmental signs for his age – reaching for the instruments, rocking and shaking to the music. “By the end of our session, Gabriel was giving us some of those happy shrieks and there were tearful moments for mom. ‘We got our baby back!’ she told me,” said Kim.

Music therapy and child life therapy are both part of a patient’s wrap-around care at Shriners Children’s. Through music and play, these therapies help reduce the stressful and sometimes painful experiences that come with a hospital stay. They are used in conjunction with direct patient care and rehabilitation services.

Christina decided to share Gabriel’s story because it could happen to anyone, and she wants other families to know that Shriners Children’s Boston is the place to bring your child if they are burned. “It could have been me who looked away for just a second,” she said. “We did not know what to do and I am so grateful we found Shriners to care for our baby boy. The doctors and nurses took care of Gabriel and made sure we left the hospital confident with our ability to care for our little one. Although his scars may not heal quickly, it’s amazing to know we’ll be taken care of by Shriners Children’s until he is 21!”

Meet Gabriel

This sweet, smiling baby benefitted from Shriners Children's Boston burn care.

gabriel with santa

Santa paid a special visit to Gabriel and his mom, Christina, while he was an inpatient.

gabriel with music therapist

When music therapist Kim played the guitar and shook the maracas, Gabriel was filled with energy and excitement. His mom was overjoyed to see her baby rocking and shaking to the music.

gabriel sleeping

There is nothing like a peaceful sleeping baby to reassure parents they have found the right care for their child.

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