PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Nearly 100 burn victims and caregivers reunited Sunday to celebrate the victims’ recovery.
The UPMC Mercy Burn Center has been hosting the annual get-together for the last 23 years.
Two burn survivors told their stories and talked about the pain.
“I was at a bonfire with a few friends one night,” Elaine Kerr, of Carmichaels, Pa., said. “We were there for about 45 minutes and there was an explosion from the bonfire.”
“We went downstairs and I could see a little bit of a fire, like, starting to come through the first floor,” Brandon Ecklung, of Ridgeway, Pa., said. “Me and my mom ran downstairs. She made it out of the door, and the door slammed shut on me because of, like, the backdraft and stuff.”
There are lifelong scars.
“We later found out that it was a shock absorber that was in the fire, and it exploded on both of my legs,” Kerr said.
“I got burnt on 45 percent of my body,” Ecklung said.
But on Sunday, they celebrated their recovery and helped other victims learn how to cope.
“We come in celebration. The patients like to interact with each other. We get to see them after they’ve gone home and kind of reintegrated back into their lives,” said Dr. Jenny Ziembicki, the UPMC Mercy Trauma & Burn Center medical director.
This year’s theme was “Under The Sea.” Survivors reunited with their doctors and nurses. They enjoyed a balloon artist, therapy dog and more.
“We have a lot of prizes for them, giveaways for them, a lot of activities for the kids — face-painting, coloring and that kind of thing,” Ziembicki said.
How do their stories end?
Kerr is now in college and Ecklung will be discharged on Monday.
The hospital treats more than 350 burn victims every year.