Los Angeles, CA – May 23, 2008 – Maria came to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Los Angeles at the age of three. As a 19 month old toddler in Mexico, she had been burned on her arm, back and face when she fell onto a vaporizer that her mother had put near her bed because Maria had a bad cold.
She has spent most of her 14 years in and out of Shriners Hospitals where she has been under the care of our plastic reconstruction and psychosocial teams.
In addition to the physical healing, Maria also had to go through psychological counseling to move past the trauma of her childhood experiences. She has had to cope with the long-term separation from her father and sister who stayed behind in Mexico.
Maria has also had to deal with low self-esteem stemming from the taunts and teasing coming from her classmates at school. However, since starting twice a week therapy sessions at the hospital, she has changed her outlook on life. Holly Hamlett, LCSW, manager of the hospital’s care coordination department says, “Maria was the first patient that I saw when I started at Shriners Hospital and I’ve seen lot’s of personal growth in her life since we first met. She’s a really cool teen who inspires everyone around her. And just recently she’s achieved the honor roll at her high school and is taking college courses as well.”
Maria has come so far in her rehabilitation, that she now wants to give back to those that have given her so much. She has appeared in newspaper and television public service announcements for both the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
She also regularly visits with teen groups at the Shriners Hospital to share the reality of being a burn survivor with other patients. She says, “I want to help prevent children from going through what I went through. It was pretty bad. I want to make parents become more careful when their children are around boiling water or are playing with matches. As for her goals in life, Maria says she wants to go to college to become a nurse, or maybe a doctor or a teacher. Or maybe all three.