Trinity Chooses a Life Not Defined by Her Scars

January 16, 2018

"Going to Burn Camp and being around other burn survivors was very memorable. For the first time since my accident, I knew that I wasn’t alone in the world." – Trinity, burn survivor and Children’s Hospital Colorado Ambassador

Last spring, Trinity’s life was divided in two: the time before the accident and everything that’s come since.

“I was a very outgoing girl. I had a lot of friends,” she said of the life she lived before. “One of the toughest things I’ve had to go through since the accident is going out in public places and learning to not get scared or shy.

”Growing up in Granby, Colo. Trinity was on the cheerleading team and made friends everywhere she went.

Then last year, at age 12, Trinity’s world turned upside down. While hanging out with friends in a backyard, one of the kids started a bonfire. He doused it with a gasoline and oil mixture, which splashed onto Trinity. When a wind picked up, Trinity caught on fire. Her friends tried desperately to put out the flames, but it was too late.

“I got a call that she had caught on fire,” said her mom, Kim. “I didn’t know anything except that she was burned and being taken on a Flight for Life® helicopter to Children’s Hospital Colorado.”

When Kim arrived at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Children’s Colorado, Trinity was covered in protective garments. She had been intubated and heavily sedated to control the pain. Kim learned that Trinity had second- and third-degree burns over 25 percent of her body, including her head, face, legs, arms and torso.

“It was the hardest thing to see my child like that,” Kim said.

Long Road to Recovery

Major burns, like Trinity’s, require intensive treatment to heal. The multidisciplinary team at the Children’s Colorado Burn Center was there every step of her recovery. Treating all types of burn injuries, the program is the only one in the state dedicated solely to pediatric patients.

Following the accident, Trinity had several skin graft surgeries, which takes healthy skin from another part of the body and applies it to a wound to help it heal. She also began intensive rehabilitation to regain strength.

Kim and Trinity’s younger sister, Isabella, were included in all parts of her treatment. A social worker helped 3-year-old Isabella understand the healing process and that her sister would be OK. Kim learned how to change Trinity’s wound dressings so she would be prepared to continue care for her daughter once they left the hospital. The nurses even baked Trinity a cake for her birthday. After two months at Children’s Colorado, Trinity was able to return home.

“I’ve never met a team like the Burn Team,” Kim said. “They took care of not just Trinity, but our whole family, and made our time at Children’s Colorado as positive as possible.”

To thank the Burn Center, Trinity made a quilt with cutout angels representing each member of her care team.

Strength for Other Burn Survivors

Trinity and her family moved from Granby to Commerce City, Colo., to be closer to Children’s Colorado. Trinity now goes to the Medical Day Treatment Program, a Monday-through-Friday school at Children’s Colorado that integrates medical treatment with academics.

Today, Trinity wears a hard clear mask over her face and protective garments on her arms, torso and legs during the day to keep her scars safe. At night she wears a soft mask with a neck brace and mouthpiece. Because of scarring around her mouth, Trinity cannot open it as wide as before the accident but the mouthpiece helps strengthen the muscles. She continues to go to the Burn Center for regular physical and occupational therapy, scar massages, and sessions with a psychologist to adjust to life after the accident.

Some days, she is tired and doesn’t want to go to therapy. But she works hard to get stronger and continue to heal her scars.

“It’s not ideal, but we are getting through it together,” Kim said. “We are so grateful for Children’s Colorado.”

Thanks to donors, Trinity went to last year’s Burn Camps Program, a summer camp hosted by Children’s Colorado, to empower burn survivors. Burn Camps helped Trinity to build her confidence after her accident. The experience even inspired Trinity to mentor other patients at Children’s Colorado Burn Center.

“It’s OK to be different,” she says.

As an Ambassador for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, Trinity is now raising money for Burn Camps so every burn survivor can have the same chance for recovery that she had.

Outside of Children’s Colorado, Trinity spends her time doing arts and crafts, quilting and singing. She adores her younger sister and hopes to someday pursue a career in music.