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Shriners Hospitals for Children - Boston: Care from the Beginning

Shriners Hospitals for Children - Boston: Care from the Beginning

After biting an extension cord at the age of 3, Leslie Tate Mark was left with a half dollar sized hole on the side of her face. From a tiny island off the coast of Maine, she was referred to the Shriners Burn Institute in Boston in 1967, becoming one of its first patients. A lot has changed in the fifty years since Leslie became a patient, from the name of the hospital to the very building itself. Leslie shares her early memories of the hospital and the care she received while she was a young child and young adult.
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Leslie Tate Mark:

I initially started treatment in 1967, which I think was before the hospital even initially opened or officially open. I was about three years old, living on an island accessible only by boat. And I was playing with an extension cord, I was trying to pull it apart, I was going to make it into a telephone. But I couldn't pull it apart with my hands, so I bit it apart, burned a very big hole in my face. I used to come in annually and have a kind of a checkup check-in and the surgeon would look at the progress. And then, because we came from so far away, sometimes I would just stay. And then other times I would go home and be told you can come back in a year. But the times that I would stay initially, it was a little scary letting my parents go and being in the big city when I was from such a tiny little community, but within no time they had me playing in the playroom and meeting all the other kids.

They were able to repair this corner of my mouth so that my lips had a natural shape. And I remember just being so amazed by that. And I could still feel the spots inside where the skin was grafted and taken out from the inside to reconstruct my lip. I was kind of a bit of a celebrity on the island because everybody knew about my burn and my trips to Boston for the surgery. The Ladies' Aid Society and the Shriners would raise money for all of my transportation costs so our family never incurred any financial hardship, which was really important because my dad was a lobsterman and there were times when there wasn't a lot of income.

The last time I came, I think it was a freshman in high school. And the doc said to me at that time, you can have more surgery if you want but it looks pretty good, and it looks really good. And going through high school there was always this time of healing with stitches and bandages. And I kind of felt like, you know what, I'm grateful for all that they've done and I think it's enough. I think I'm okay just the way I am. These doctors and nurses and staff and volunteers are incredibly compassionate people. And this is some of the best work, maybe the best work, being done in the country. So you are absolutely in the best hands possible. Happy 50th anniversary, Shriners Hospitals for Children Boston.