Education Grant Recipient Raises Awareness about Uncommon Type of Burn  |  September 15, 2014

In 2013, AlloSource began a 10-year partnership with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, pledging an annual financial contribution to fund their scholarship program. For more than 35 years, the Phoenix Society has worked with survivors, families, healthcare professionals and the fire industry to support recovery from burns, improve the quality of burn care and prevent burn injuries. Here is the story of a 2014 Education Grant Recipient.

1 - Anderson, Shelby - PhotoShelby never could have imagined that a day cooking at the beach would land her in the hospital with severe burns to her hands.

She and her family spent the day at Catalina Island making dinner for 150 people. Since they didn’t have a juicer, they hand-squeezed two large boxes of limes for the marinade. After several hours of work, Shelby took a break to enjoy the beach with her friends.

The next morning I woke up with my hands stinging, and in another 24 hours my hands were swollen,” she said.

Shelby and her family, like many, didn’t know the combination of citrus juice and sunlight can cause Phytophotodermatitis, a type of burn resulting from exposure to ultraviolet radiation and certain botanical substances.

Shelby’s hands worsened and were covered in tennis ball-sized blisters. Unfortunately, she was initially misdiagnosed and her burn was improperly treated.

After her misdiagnosis, Shelby’s family took her to the University of California, Irvine Burn Ward. She endured several painful procedures to clean her injury and then returned home to face her challenging recovery. Since she had to wear custom splints on her hands, Shelby was unable to do anything for herself for 10 days and relied on the help of her family.

Though her hands have healed, Shelby’s injury drives her to educate others on this rarely discussed type of burn. She returned to the place that helped her heal – University of California, Irvine, to pursue a degree in Medical Anthropology.

When I was in the hospital and feeling what it was like to be a patient, I realized that I wanted to help people who were in my situation,” she said. “I would like to work in the burn ward where I was treated to help burn victims obtain proper care, support and information during their healing process.”

Shelby says her burn experience is what inspired her intended career path.

By going through my burn and being in the hospital, I figured out what my true calling was,” said Shelby. “Even though I have always had a desire to help others, if I had not had this experience I would not have such a deep, personal understanding of what people are experiencing.”

Shelby commits much of her time and energy to raising awareness about this specific kind of burn. She hopes to use her degree to become a patient advocate.

I feel that my advocate’s support was just as influential in my healing as the physical care of the nurses and doctors. I would like to be that person for someone else and put my compassion into action.”

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