icono para donar Donar

Shriners Children’s Northern California Heals Dan in Many Ways

Dan’s life has always been relatively peaceful, living in a quiet wooded area with his family. He lives an active lifestyle and enjoys tinkering around with different types of machines.

“Using my hands is highly important for me because my hobbies include working on tools or trucks, you need to be able to have fine motor skills to grab everything, from a wrench or a chain saw down to a fine screw.” said Dan.

One day changed everything for him.

“I was putting gas on a bonfire that wasn’t starting,” said Dan. “I figured I could light it later, but it was lit enough to light the gas on fire. When I tossed the gas tin away from me, it splashed all over my torso and caught my sweatshirt on fire.”

Immediately, Dan stopped, dropped and rolled. He went to an outdoor spigot to extinguish the fire. Due to the extent of Dan’s injury, he was in shock, not feeling any pain. He decided to go inside for dinner like nothing was wrong. Upon seeing his hands bleeding, he decided to casually mention to his parents that he might need medical attention.

Dan’s mom, Sheryl, looked at her son’s arms and took action immediately. “I thought, ‘This is not good’,” she said.

Dan was quickly rushed into an ambulance, helicoptered to UC Davis Medical Center for emergency treatment, and transferred an hour later to the Neil Reitman Pediatric Burn Institute at Shriners Children’s Northern California.

The Neil Reitman Pediatric Burn Institute is widely recognized as one of the world's leading pediatric burn research and treatment centers in the United States. The institute provides all aspects of burn care – from initial management, critical care and wound coverage – to rehabilitation, inpatient care and reconstruction. Shriners Children’s Northern California has the largest pediatric burn treatment center west of the Mississippi, and many hospitals and health systems refer their most complex and complicated patients because of the training and expertise the burn doctors have to treat the most complicated and life-threatening burn injuries.

“When I started telling everyone that my son was being treated at Shriners Children’s for burns, the response was always, ‘That is the best place for burn care’. I started doing my own research,” said Sheryl. “I realized that my son was at the best possible place he could be for burn care.”

Exceptional Care for Burns

Because Dan had burns in several places, he required skin graft surgery. A skin graft is the removal and placement of a patient’s healthy, unburned skin onto the area of the burn, which helps it heal. Dan’s care team made sure everyone was well-informed about each procedure. This included pros and cons of each procedure, down time and how much longer it would add to his stay, opinions on medication dosage, and even food preferences.

“At one point Dr. Greenhalgh asked me about how I felt about re-grafting my back since it wasn’t taking,” said Dan. “Him taking the time to seek me out, to come to me and ask me, made a lasting impression on me that he didn’t want to do whatever he thought was best, but something I wanted to do.”

His parents couldn’t agree more. His mom remembers observing the intensive care unit (ICU) staff in the early morning during a daily huddle, talking about Dan’s care. A doctor saw her and asked what she thought of the plan.

“I soon learned that was part of the process,” she said. “They wanted to take the information from everyone – therapists, parents, the patient – to make the best care plan they could, every day.”

We were equally as important, and as long as I was in front of them, I was their priority, it was remarkable. It didn’t matter if it was the surgeons or the nurses, the OTs or the PTs. They were all phenomenal. Really, phenomenal.
Jeff, Dan's dad

Care Beyond the Physical

Both of Dan’s parents recall running into their son’s doctors in the elevator, the hallways and the café during their stay. Each time, they would be surprised at the personable and kind interactions they had. The doctors would take the time to ask about how they were doing, how they felt treatment was going, and if they needed anything. This was an unexpected element of the care that not only Dan was receiving, but his parents were receiving, too.

“I would often run into the surgeons in an elevator or in the cafeteria and would purposely not make eye contact,” said Sheryl. “I would think, ‘This is their break, they don’t need to be talking to me right now.’ They would call out, and ask me how I was doing. I realized that they actually want to talk to me and hear from me. They were always available and wanting to be available.”

“We were equally as important, and as long as I was in front of them, I was their priority,” said Jeff, Dan’s dad. “It was remarkable. It didn’t matter if it was the surgeons or the nurses, the OTs or the PTs. They were all phenomenal. Really, phenomenal.”

After surgery, it was a long road to recovery for Dan. The burns on this arms and hands made it difficult to do everyday tasks and hobbies, including chopping wood, one of Dan’s favorite pastimes. He loves cutting down and cleaning up trees with axes and chainsaws, as well as woodcarving. It helps him be productive and stay active, and he’s able to get rid of potential fire hazards on the family property along the way.

“As soon as the occupational therapy staff learned that I was interested in tree work with axes, they bought an axe handle and rigged weights to it,” said Dan. “I was able to practice swinging with increasingly heavier weights and build up muscle for that activity and get that range of motion back, so when I got home I was able to get right back into it.”

Being Burn Aware

Jeff visited the fire station while Dan was still in the ICU. He was able to talk with the firefighter who took the call to rush to Dan’s aid. It was then that he learned that many calls for the same type of accident had come to the fire station during that time, and Dan was the only one who had survived.

Around the same time, Dan’s parents also found out he was within a half hour of losing his fingers and hands. Had he not been rushed to Shriners Children’s, it would have been a very different outcome.

Thanks to the help and care of Shriners Children’s, Dan has his life back, having full dexterity of his hands.

“I couldn’t even walk when I entered the building, and now I can do anything that I wish,” said Dan.

Daniel's Story

Ver transcripción

[Title Card] Shriners Children’s Northern California logo

Speaker 1:

Using my hands is highly important for me because my hobbies involve working on tools or trucks or just working in the outdoors. And you need to be able to have fine motor skills to grab everything from a wrench or a chainsaw down to a fine screw or nut or a bolt.

Hello, my name is Daniel and I was a Shriners Children's patient after I was involved in a burn accident while doing clearing on the property.

Speaker 2:

We were just having a normal day. In the afternoon, Daniel appeared and said, "I don't want to alarm you, but there's been an accident at the burn pile."

Speaker 3:

When we first arrived at Shriners Children's, we had no idea what to expect. We had never had any experience with burns. We didn't know what the treatment involved. When they told us that he was going to be there for several months and would probably require over 10 surgeries, I was floored. I had no idea what to expect. And over the next several weeks and the next several months, he got the best care at Shriners Children's that I can imagine.

Speaker 1:

Shriners Children's gave me full dexterity in my hands. They gave me the full use of all my fingers again, and I couldn't even walk when I entered the building. And now I can do anything that I wish.

Speaker 3:

I would like to say thank you to all the people at Shriners Children's that helped Daniel in his journey. He not only was able to come home again, but he is able to do everything that he desires, and that's something that you can't imagine as a parent, how wonderful that is, to see that your son has his life back again.

Speaker 2:

There is such a depth to my heart when it comes to Shriners Children's and what burdens you have lifted for me as a father and a provider for my family. It's inexpressible. Thank you just isn't enough. But that's really all I have, so thank you.

[Title Card] Shriners Children’s Northern California logo

Meet Dan

Thanks to the help and care of Shriners Children’s, Dan has his life back, enjoying outdoor activities.

Daniel cortando un tronco con una motosierra.

Dan cuts a log with a chainsaw.

Daniel con su familia

Dan with his family

Daniel trabajando con herramientas en el taller.

Dan works with his tools on his house.

Daniel en la habitación para adolescentes, con una guitarra en el fondo.

Dan visits the "teen room" at Shriners Children's Northern California.

Next Steps

Comparta su historia

Nuestros pacientes y familias son el centro de todo lo que hacemos en Shriners Children's. Lo invitamos a compartir cómo el equipo de Shriners Children's ayudó a su hijo.

Donaciones a Shriners Children's

A través de la generosidad de donantes como usted, hemos podido ayudar a que más de un millón de niños lleven una vida más plena, independientemente de la capacidad de pago de la familia.


¿Tiene alguna pregunta o solicitud? ¿Necesita concertar una cita? Estamos a su disposición.