Patients and families from children's hospitals across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., on June 26 -27 to advocate on behalf of children's health during the 14th annual Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. Lucas Parra represented MUSC Children's Hospital at this special event, where he talked with members of Congress about his health journey and the importance of children’s health care. Lucas and his mom, Ashlee, recently answered a few questions about his experience in D.C. and his health journey.
Tell us about what brought Lucas to MUSC.
Ashlee: When Lucas was 7 years old, he sustained a burn injury from boiling water to his face, shoulder and arm. He was wearing his school sweatshirt at the time of the accident. Because the water absorbed in the fabric had prolonged contact with the skin, his burns were even more severe under it. An ambulance transported Lucas to MUSC Children’s Hospital, where they were able to clean his burns and give him medicine for the pain. He was in the hospital a little over a week and then sent home to monitor and continue to care for the burns. Since the burns on his arm and shoulder were determined to be third degree this meant Lucas would need skin grafts to help the burns heal. He returned for skin graft surgery at MUSC Children’s Hospital. A special team of burn nurses and pediatric surgeons treated Lucas. The surgeons took skin graft from his thigh to graft on his arm and shoulder. MUSC is the only hospital in South Carolina with a burn treatment center. Had it not been for MUSC Children’s Hospital, we would have had to travel outside of the state for Lucas’ burn treatments.
Tell us about your experience traveling to Washington to advocate for children's health care.
Ashlee: We were expecting a lot of fun with other kids but also a lot of work representing the children of South Carolina. We prepared by looking at the facts about Medicaid. Sixty percent of those covered by Medicaid in South Carolina are children. It is important to both families and to the hospitals. Oh, and we went shopping for some new clothes to wear to meet senators and Congress! We really enjoyed spending time in D.C. visiting the museums (especially the Natural History museum with dinosaurs), meeting and talking with our senators and representatives, and spending time with my friends from MUSC and meeting lots of cool kids on different medical journeys.
You helped create a comic book and video about burn safety, can you tell us a little more about this?
Lucas: Well since my accident, I learned a lot about how to be safe in the kitchen and on holidays. My burn nurse asked me if I wanted to help them with a project to teach kids about burn safety. I was more than happy to help. We went to MUSC to meet with the people working on the book. We talked about different ideas for the comic book from a kid's perspective. I thought it would be a cool idea to have a talking fire hose. They took a picture of my brother and I to put in the front of the comic book. Then we filmed a video about safety in the kitchen. We share the video and comic book with several schools across the state of South Carolina.
What are you most excited about in the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital?
Lucas: I am very excited to see the new hospital and new playroom for kids. I am most excited about how many kids the hospital can help.
What does your family like to do for fun?
Lucas: We spend a lot of time on Wadmalaw at my grandparents’ home going swimming or out on the boat. We also like to go to the movies and play games.
Do you already have an idea of what you would like to do when you grow up?
Lucas: I want to do three things when I grow up. I want to play football, be an artist and be a fireman. I go to a camp in the summer for children who have been burned. Almost all the counselors there are firemen. I really look up to my counselor Ross and want to be a fireman like him someday.