Samyuktha's Healing Journey After Burn Injury
Samyuktha was 7 when she was badly burned near her home in Chennai, India, in December of 2019. She was lighting lamps with her grandmother during the annual festival of light, wearing one of her favorite long gowns. As Samyuktha continued lighting the lamps, she did not realize that her gown had caught on fire. The flames quickly spread across her body and the family rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she stayed in the intensive care unit for three months. During that acute phase of her recovery, Samyuktha had approximately 20 surgeries to address her wounds.
After she returned home, Samyuktha’s family sought help from the Children’s Burn Foundation as they explored advanced treatment options for her injuries. The foundation identified Shriners Children’s Boston as the best place for pediatric burn care. The foundation connected her family with Shriners Children’s Boston and care manager Sandy Barrett. “We were fortunate to come in contact with Sandy, who really stepped in to help us,” said her father, Rajarajan. “She made a huge difference in guiding us to get the right care for Samyuktha at Shriners.”
The family arrived at Shriners Children’s Boston in May 2021, about a year and a half after her injury. Samyuktha began outpatient care and continued her rehabilitation. During this phase of her recovery, doctors in Boston continued to perform surgeries as needed.
Since her accident, Samyuktha has gone through multiple surgeries, including skin grafts, releases, z-plasty and laser treatments, both in India and in Boston. She will require further surgeries and ongoing laser treatments at Shriners Children’s Boston as she gets older.
While there are so many involved in helping Samyuktha at Shriners, the names we will never forget are care manager Sandy Barrett, plastic surgeon Dr. Branko Bojovic and physical therapist Hilary Smith. They have made a huge difference in Samyuktha’s life and continue to help her get through this.
“While there are so many involved in helping Samyuktha at Shriners, the names we will never forget are care manager Sandy Barrett, plastic surgeon Dr. Branko Bojovic, and physical therapist Hilary Smith,” said Rajarajan. “They have made a huge difference in Samyuktha’s life and continue to help her get through this.” More than anything, Rajarajan explained, her care team is helping Samyuktha get back to experiencing life as a typical 10-year-old with varied interests.
Samyuktha’s family was fortunate to have a support system in addition to their team at Shriners Children’s to help them all cope with her accident and hospitalization. “We really wish no one such an experience for their loved ones, especially the kids they love,” said Rajarajan. “It was not easy, but we had a lot of support from family and friends to get through the horrible times.”
As Samyuktha continues to heal, her family has words of advice and encouragement for others experiencing a similar situation. “For anyone who has to face such an unfortunate situation, the only thing we want to say is to have faith in the powers beyond us, and keep focusing on getting the right treatment and environment for your child,” said Rajarajan. “Also, give your children confidence and try to keep them engaged, so they get the distraction needed from the surgeries and the pain they have to go through.”
Now 10, Samyuktha is an avid reader. Fantasy and nonfiction are her favorite genres. In addition to reading, she also enjoys drawing and crafts, and swimming. Her family is so grateful to Shriners Children’s for helping Samyuktha return to the activities that she enjoyed prior to her burn injury.
“We would like to thank everyone at Shriners for being so kind and supporting Samyuktha through the toughest period,” said Rajarajan. The family knows that Samyuktha will still have additional surgeries as she grows, but with continued care and the promise of medical advancements, Samyuktha is moving along on her path to get “back to her beautiful best,” said Rajarajan.