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Shriners Children’s Northern California Helps Fatima Recover After Scald Burns

Fatima’s parents never expected to spend Christmas in an emergency room, or at the most advanced pediatric burn care facility on the West Coast a few days later.

Fatima lives in Tijuana, Mexico. She was playing with her dolls on Christmas Eve while her parents were preparing a big pot of pozole, a traditional stew that many Mexican families enjoy during festivities. They decided to leave the finished dish on the floor to make space in the kitchen for other plates. When Fatima went running through the kitchen, she didn’t know the pot was there and stumbled, spilling the contents all over her body, severely burning her arm and back in seconds.

Advanced Burn Care

Yini, her mom, rushed Fatima to the nearest emergency room, where the medical staff gave her first aid treatment. However, they realized that with Fatima’s second- and third-degree burns, they did not have the equipment or specialists to treat her properly.

“I was so worried that I just fell apart,” said Yini. “I never thought that a tragedy could happen in just two seconds.”

The medical staff in Tijuana transferred Fatima to Shriners Children’s Northern California, where she could receive proper treatment for her burns.

“The doctors told me that Shriners Children’s in Sacramento was the best option for Fatima because they specialize in both burns and pediatric care,” said Yini.

Fatima was admitted to the Neil Reitman Pediatric Burn Institute, where a multidisciplinary care team prioritized her care and recovery process.

Pediatric burn surgeon Kathleen Romanowski, M.D., was in charge of Fatima’s care. She performed skin grafting surgery to restore mobility and functionality in her affected areas. Skin grafting is highly-effective in closing acute wounds quickly to help regulate body temperature, prevent infection, and allow body fluids to continue functioning properly. The dedicated staff at Shriners Children’s Northern California provided around-the-clock care and emotional support to Fatima and her family during her recovery process.

“I can’t thank Shriners Children’s enough for all the care and attention we received,” said Yini. “During such a difficult time, they made us feel like everything was going to be okay. The connection you create between other families; it’s priceless. We received so much love and encouragement during Fatima’s operation, and we never felt alone.”

The doctors told me that Shriners Children’s in Sacramento was the best option for Fatima because they specialize in both burns and pediatric care.
Yini, Fatima's mom, Shriners Children's Northern California

A Happy Ending

Despite the challenges she faced, Fatima demonstrated incredible resilience and determination. With the help of her medical team and the love and support of her family, she gradually regained her strength and confidence. The physical therapy program played a crucial role in helping her rebuild her life, offering specialized exercises and resources tailored to her unique needs.

After a long month of recovering in the hospital, Fatima was ready to start the return trip back home. “It has been the toughest experience in my life,” said Yini. “I could not stop blaming myself after what happened. Now I know that accidents happen anytime, but now I feel better prepared to face them and, more importantly, to prevent them.”

Yini called on other parents and caregivers to be mindful of everyday dangers at home, to talk with their kids, and follow experts’ recommendations.

Fatima returned to Tijuana and is home recovering with outpatient therapy. A seamstress with the physical and occupational therapy team sewed a personalized burn compression garment for her, to help with the pain during healing and to prevent scarring. She will continue to be monitored closely until she makes a full recovery. Fatima and her family are grateful for the care they received at Shriners Children’s. Christmas holds a special meaning for them now, a reminder of the strength they discovered in Fatima and the unwavering support of her loved ones.

Fatima's story

Fatima’s parents never expected to spend Christmas in an emergency room, or at the most advanced pediatric burn care facility on the Western side of the United States a few days later.
View Transcript

[Shriners Children's logo, "The Place to Turn for Any Burn,"]



Good afternoon, my name is Juan and this afternoon, I would like to share the accident that happened to my daughter on Christmas Day. I want to share with all parents, the importance of being cautious with your kids to avoid accidents.

We want to share our experience at Shriners Children's with you. We really appreciate their attention, and we want to share our story.


On the night of Christmas Eve, Fatima burned herself with a pot of pozole. the pot was within her reach. She innocently walked toward the pot and sat down in it without knowing what it was. the pot was covered, she stepped back, sat down, and fell into the pot and placed her arm down, causing second degree burns.

On Christmas Eve, well, we spent it in the hospital because of the tragedy. In general, a burn can be very serious, and many times, it can be even cost you your life. To avoid it you should practice, for example:


Monitor the gas controls and make sure they are closed. Do not leave unattended kids around grills. Use precaution with hot water and know all the risks of its high temperatures. Practice precaution so nobody gets hurt. No matter how small or how safe it loos, this is when you should be more careful, because accidents happen in seconds, in the blink of an eye, and we can prevent it.

My experience here at Shriners Children's Northern California has been very spectacular. The interaction they have with all the children we have seen during our visit; it is a phenomenal hospital, very professional. We are truly grateful because they gave our daughter the best care.


To me, Shriners Children's is a hospital full of angels who take care of burned children.




Buenas tardes, mi nombre es Juan y quiero compartir en esta tarde el accidente que tuvo mi hija el día de Navidad. Quero compartirles a todos los padres la conciencia que debemos de tener en precaución hacia ellos en estos tiempos para que seamos mas precavidos y evitemos accidentes.

Les compartimos nuestra experiencia en Hospitales Shriners, agradecemos mucho toda su atención y les queremos compartir nuestra historia.


En la noche del 24 de diciembre, Fatima se quemó con una olla de pozole. La olla estaba al alcance de ella. Ella en su inocencia, pues simplemente caminó hacia la olla, se sentó en ella sin saber que era. Estaba tapada, entonces ella retrocedió, se sentó y cayó adentro de la olla sentada y recargó su brazo, lo cual le propiciaron quemaduras de segundo grado. El día de la Nochebuena, pues la pasamos en el hospital por su tragedia.

En general, una quemadura es muy muy grave, y muchas veces te cuesta hasta la vida. Poder evitarlo sería algo como por ejemplo:


Revisar las llaves del gas, que estén bien cerradas, no desatender a los niños en los asadores, en aguas calientes, en todo esos riesgos de altas temperaturas, tener esa precaución para que nadie salga lastimado. Por más pequeño o por más seguro que se mire, es cuando más cuidado debemos de tener porque el accidente es en segudos, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos puede pasar y podemos evitar todo eso.

Mi experiencia aqui en el hospital Shriners norte de California es muy espectacular todo el trato que tienen hacia todos los niños que hemos visto en ésta estancia, es un hospital muy fenomenal, muy profesionales. Agradecidos estamos por que le dieron una atención a nuestra hija de la mejor.


Para mí, hospital Shriners es un hospital de ángeles que cuidan a los niños quemados.

[Shriners Children's logo,]

Fatima's Journey

Learn about a multidisciplinary team's success in treating burn injuries.

Fatima with burn surgeon

Fatima and her burn surgeon, Kathleen Romanowski, M.D., FACS

nurse playing with Fatima

Shriners Children's nurses were an important part of Fatima's quick recovery. Pictured: Fatima and one of her nurses.

Fatima wearing a tiara

Fatima wearing a tiara

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