Real Patients, Real Stories

Burn Crisis Brightened Through Holiday Cheer



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It was the perfect winter birthday party. Eager nine-year-olds gobbled pizza and cake in the warmth of the heated garage, taking a break after hours of enjoying the video-gaming trailer. 

But in the matter of mere seconds, the event turned from fun to horror.  A shrill scream interrupted the festivities as Shannon Taylor heard the chilling words no mother ever wants to hear her child exclaim:

“Help! I am on fire!”

Shannon’s 5-year old daughter, Ivy, had wandered in to join the birthday festivities for her older brother.  While warming herself near the propane heater stationed in the garage to keep the guests warm, her fleece jacket caught fire. 

Ivy’s oldest brother reacted within moments and tossed Ivy into the snow to smother the fire.  Shannon raced to her daughter’s aid, struggling to pull off Ivy’s flaming clothes.  But it was too late. 

Hidden beneath Ivy’s jacket were brutal burns.  The fire had burned 15 percent of Ivy’s body, scorching her stomach, hip, and thighs.

“It was a nightmare,” says Shannon.  “I felt like I was dreaming and I wanted someone to shake me awake.”

An ambulance rushed Ivy to University of Utah Health's Burn Center, where she was placed in the hands of burn care surgeons Giavonni Lewis, M.D. and Amalia Cochran, M.D.  With such severe burns, Ivy needed two surgeries and physical therapy.  It became clear she would not be released from the hospital until after Christmas. 

The visions of sugarplums once dancing in the Taylors’ heads were transformed into images of x-rays, surgeries, and late nights at the hospital. 

Yet, in the midst of their own fears, the Taylors were touched to see that the Christmas spirit was not lost amongst the University Hospital medical staff as they went above and beyond in Ivy’s treatment.

After being intabated for a week, Ivy’s soft blond waves had transformed into limp dreadlocks. With Ivy in a morphine-induced sleep and breathing tubes funneling down her throat, brushing Ivy’s hair seemed like a near impossibility. 

“A nurse came in and offered to hold Ivy’s breathing tube in place for an hour so I could comb through her matted locks with coconut oil,” says Shannon. “The care we got was incredible.” 

The exceptional care did not stop there.  During Ivy’s five-week stay, she was offered ice cream and toys, and participated in yoga classes as part of her physical therapy.

“Ivy was spoiled the minute we got there,” says Shannon. “The doctors and nurses at the Burn Center are like our family.”

A year later, Ivy is back to her usual, active self, participating in gymnastics and playing with her sister and brothers. 

“Ivy is our inspiration,” says Shannon.  “This girl is unstoppable.”

Still grateful for the wonderful care Ivy received at the U of U Health, the Taylors wanted to give a little something back.  In light of the year anniversary since Ivy was rushed to the hospital, and with Christmas around the corner, they decided to donate 40 gift-filled stockings to the Burn Center.

“We hope the stockings fill the current patients with the same holiday spirit that was once shared with our family at University of Utah Health,” says Shannon.


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