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This fundraiser ended on 12/25/12

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5 year old Eric is a wonderful little boy with a huge heart. Burns were sustained to 40% of his body. Little Eric needs your help.

Eric is a 5 year old burn survivor. Burns were sustained to 40% of his body. 30% were 3rd degree and grafted using the skin from his back and hips. As you can imagine the family has many expenses related to his injuries. They are lifelong. They are something they deal with everyday. Eric will face many surgeries in his life. He has had 8 surgeries so far. Eric will be having his 6th facial laser procedure December 14th of this year. We are still in need of medical devices in Eric bedroom to ease comfort after this painful surgery. Eric travels to another state for surgery and medical care so traveling expenses are mounting up. Today you have the opportunity to help the Rodriguez families situation for the better. We thank you in advance. No donation is to small. Every dollar will get us closer to our goal.

Below is a story written by Little Erics mother of Eric's injury.

 

TRIAL BY FIRE: A MOTHERS ENCOUNTER OF HER CHILD'S PAIN

There are days in the life of many people that they can say changed their life in the blink of an eye. Imagine if you would for a moment that that day was today for you. If you knew it was coming... would you do anything different? Or if that day was destiny would it matter if anything you did could have changed it? That day for me and my family was July 19th, 2011. The day began as any other day. My family woke up in the morning. I, myself, was not feeling well and took the day off of work. I shortly after went to the hospital leaving my children in the hands of my husband. After several bags of fluid for hydration, I was discharged and my husband came to pick me up.

My husband and I went to pick up our children at my brother in law's house. They invited us to stay for dinner because they knew I was not up for cooking a meal for my husband and 3 children. We gratefully accepted and had a normal summer dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. As we finished our summer fun meal it was suggested that we start a bonfire. My children were just finishing up and we were all heading outside. My son however asked for one more hot dog and I gave it to him with instructions to come outside as soon as he had finished.

Have you ever gotten that bad feeling in the pit of your stomach like you are outside of yourself looking in and everything screams for you to do something? But I didn't. I left him in the house to join my family outside... convinced it was only in my mind and everything was going to be fine. What’s the worst that could happen? I joined my family outside. I walked past the bonfire that my family had already started a few feet from the front porch. I walked down to the driveway to join my sister-in-law. It was a normal day. The sun was setting. It was almost over.

Then I heard a thunderous noise and flash behind me. It made my soul tremble. I shuddered as I turned around to see flames as high as the trees. Not realizing what had happened. Then out of the flames I saw my brother in law running. The flames followed his body. I screamed, "Stop, drop, and roll". He dropped to the ground and the flames were out. I was scared but walked slowly towards him and closer to where the fire had been. Then my mind froze again. The flames were moving. I stopped in my tracks to realize those flames were my son. My little boy… my baby.

He was crying for me, and I was frozen. My husband acted quickly grabbing my son and throwing him to the ground. I walked towards him with my hands up into the air. It was as if I was praying in my mind to forget the images that just passed my eyes. I found myself over his body as several people attempted to put the flames out from his clothes and hair. I hovered my body over his. My husband took him from beneath me and carried him into the house. Just then someone screamed to put him in the shower. My mind finally kicked into gear. I began to think that we needed to get his clothes off and call 911. I began in to the house telling my husband to get his clothes off and had the phone in my hand to call 911.

I remember being scared to look in the room where my son was. I was even more scared when I went into that room and looked at him. I had convinced myself that maybe it wasn't that bad. He was only on fire for a short period of time. But what I saw stung my eyes. My 3 year old child was naked with burns from his forehead to his feet. His skin melted. His hair half gone. Tears were swelling in his eyes, and mine. My body shook. I yelled to my husband, "We need to get him to the hospital." 911 operators still had not answered at this time and I was terrified. We carried him to our van and my husband placed him in my arms.

We drove for 15 minutes before reaching the hospital that was 5 minutes away. In our panic we couldn't find the local hospital; forgetting which way to take to get there. We drove 70 in a 30 area... passing several police vehicles who never stopped us. We honked our horn and finally we came to the hospital.

I jumped out of the van with my son in my arms leaving the passenger door open. I found a door but it was locked. I screamed in horror. "Somebody please God help me." Just then a nurse leaving for the night came out and yelled "follow me". My husband was a few feet behind. I couldn't breathe. I couldn’t say anything. I just followed her to an ICU room and laid my child's body on the bed. He looked up at me and said, "Mommy it hurts". His body was so weak and frail. I finally let out my first tear.

The doctors and nurses rushed in with gauze and saline. His body began to swell. I was helpless. I am a nurse. It’s what I do... I take care of people and I couldn't help him. At that moment I knew my son’s life was in their hands. I stood there as they tried to save my son’s life. I didn't know what to do or say. I looked across the room and there in the corner was my husband. He was standing there with a single tear in his eye. He was trying so hard to stay strong. But I could tell from his look he was broken. His face and heavy heart broke mine. I began to weep for my son. Not knowing if he would live or die. I couldn't control my tears. I wept as they catheterized my son and kept his body moist with sterile saline and warm with blankets. The nurse grabbed my hand and told me I needed to be strong for my son. I decided to leave the room for a moment.

I couldn't face this alone. I called my mother and my pastor. My mother was in tears and said she would be there soon. I cried to her "mom why did this happen to me and my baby?" Her answer still chills me to this day. She with a hint of anger replied, "Because you’re always in the wrong place at the wrong time." My Pastor told me he needed to pray. We hung up and felt sure he fell to his knees to pray for my son.

I was shortly after told my son needed to be transferred to the local pediatric hospital. The ambulance came to transport my son and me. My husband followed shortly after in our family van. I sat in the front of the ambulance while two EMT's; a man and woman; watched over my son in the back. I began to pray and try to bargain with God. Saying out loud “God please don't take my son away. I can't live without him. I promise his life to be dedicated to you if only you would spare his life. I will not live without him I can't please God please." I repeated the same prayer over and over louder as we drove. The louder I prayed it seemed the faster we drove. I could tell the ambulance driver was as scared for my son as I was.

Finally we made it to the hospital. When I got out of the ambulance there were several people waiting. They took my husband and me inside where I met my mother, step father, and two sisters. We were joined, shortly after, by my step mother, mother in law, and two members of my church. I just kept repeating to them... If I didn't go to the hospital that morning this never would have happened. If I didn't let him have a second hot dog he would have been with me. In my heart I knew it was not my fault. But my mind screamed... your his mother... it’s your job to protect him... you failed at your job.

While planning his course of care I heard the doctors say the name Shriner's several times. They were telling me they were in contact with Shriner's and were waiting on them to call to plan his next move. The doctors examined his body and stated they would be transferring him to the ICU. Over 60% of his body was estimated to be burned but they wouldn't know more until the blisters were removed from his body and they were able to see the damage. Pockets of fluid covered the whole front of his body. I took my family one at a time to see him. Then when they all had viewed him over it was time to transfer to the ICU. After we reached the ICU we were immediately told he would have to be transferred to Shriner's Burn hospital in Cincinnati.

I was shocked as the doctors told me his burns were too extensive for the hospital to handle, and he needed to go to another hospital. This time he would fly, and we were unsure if I would be able to go with him. I sent my husband home to pack. We were going to Cincinnati.

At 4am the transport arrived and was able to relieve my fears of leaving him. I was able to fly with my son to Cincinnati, but my husband would have to find his own way there. I found out we were taking a private plane and would take only a few hours to arrive at the airport. We took an ambulance ride to the local airport and they loaded us up on the plane. I remember the first question I asked before we took off was, "where is Cincinnati?" "Ohio," replied the EMT.

We arrived at the Shriner's hospitals for Children in Cincinnati on July 20th. I felt lost. I didn't know exactly where I was. I was alone with no money, or clothes. I didn't know what was going to happen or where I would stay. A social worker guided me into a room and stated that she knew I had been through a lot, but they would provide a room for me and my family. They would provide money for food. And that I was at the best place I could be for my son. I finally let out a sigh of relief. I could for a second concentrate back on my son and his care.

They cleaned the blisters off of my son's body and estimated 40% of his body to be burned. He had no signs of smoke inhalation so he would not require a tracheotomy. We would have to treat him aggressively and in sterile conditions to prevent infection. Now it was a waiting game. It was a game my husband would soon join me for as he proceeded to Cincinnati overnight on a bus.

Seven days after we arrived at Shriner's, my son Eric celebrated his 4th birthday. We were told Eric would require surgery. They would use the skin from his back and hips as a donor to graft to his entire chest, shoulder, arm, and both upper legs. From his chest down to his knees would require grafting. After 2 painful surgeries he was deemed able to go home. We spent 18 of the longest days of our lives in that hospital, and though we are so grateful to them for their care and compassion, we were even more so happy to finally go home.

At home waiting for us was our daughters. (Lillian age 5, Violet age 2, and Nina age 14) They gently hugged him as they cried tears of joy to see their brother and parents. For 18 days I couldn't worry about my children at home. I couldn't even think of them, because it took everything in me to be there for my son. Finally I could hold my baby girls again. I missed them more than words can say. We had never been away from them for more than a couple of days. My children are my life and my life felt a little more complete at that moment.

We since have been back to Shriner's 8-10 times for checkups and follow-up surgeries. Eric always learns a new song each time we go. The nurses remember him as the boy with the smiling face who always says thank you. He would tell the nurses he loved them; even after a painful procedure. He is the boy who tried to make everyone laugh even when he was in pain himself. My son is incredibly strong. He has a sense of strength that I wish I had half of. I don't think I could ever deal with the pain he has overcome. And I don't know what in life I did to deserve such a wonderful boy.

My husband and I take every day one at a time. We don't know what to expect. We never know what’s around the corner. We do however appreciate every moment we spend with all our children. At first we were angry with God... but realized it was God who pulled him through and allowed him more time with us. We are so thankful for every moment with each of our children. My son, myself and my family is stronger because of what we have had to endure. And in a weird way I am thankful that we have joined together to overcome our pain and fears.

Every year there are over 1 million burn injuries in the US alone. Everyday hundreds of children are taken to the hospital for burn injuries. Eric’s story is not special, but he is a very special little boy. He likes to be called buddy. He believes he is a Hero (and he is to us). His favorite Super hero is Spiderman. He loves his mother, father, and sisters. And he never gives up an opportunity to let us know it. He is remarkable enough to smile through his pain. He is a strong willed boy with a need just to live life to its fullest. He is Eric, my son, and a burn survivor.

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