On our recent surgical team trip to La Paz, Bolivia, we met 3-year-old Sheilly, a precocious little girl whose funny personality and expressions reminded everyone of Shirley Temple. Sheilly’s mother, Maria, brought her to our clinic day in La Paz last month to see if we could treat Sheilly’s burn scar contractures.
A little over a year ago, Sheilly was playing in the kitchen when she spotted a pot sitting on the stove and – being the curious little girl she is – reached up for it. She pulled the pot of boiling water down onto herself, severely burning the right side of her body, particularly under her arm.
Maria rushed her daughter to the hospital, where she stayed for three months to recover. The doctors there bandaged the wounds but they kept the arm in the same position, not instructing her to lift or move it up and down. As a result, a burn scar contracture formed on her armpit, creating a web of skin that prevented her from lifting her arm up.
Sheilly, who is naturally right-handed, began using her left hand to draw and do other things because of this restricted mobility. Maria brought her to the ReSurge clinic because she wants her to be able to play, write and do other everyday things normally.
Dr. Jorge Terrazas, our medical partner in Bolivia, and volunteer surgeon Dr. Jonathan Rausky were able to successfully release the contracture on Sheilly’s armpit, and she kept the whole team entertained with her expressive faces and laughter from the time she awoke from anesthesia until the time she went home.
She returned for a dressing change a couple of days later, and already one of our ReSurge translators got her to happily lift her arm straight into the air to play a game on his phone. With this bright little girl’s spunk and the ability to continue growing and learning uninhibited by a disabling burn injury, we are certain that Sheilly has a full life ahead of her.