It was a typical Saturday morning in August for the Hill family. They were in the backyard of their home, enjoying the outdoors and relaxing as they took in the peacefulness that helped them unwind from the workweek.
Josef and CeAnn Hill sat and watched Kashton, their 1-year-old fun-loving, rambunctious little boy, play and laugh as he bounced around the yard. The toddler found a stick and wandered near the family’s fire pit, where days earlier, Josef had burned some brush. They didn’t know it at the time, but somehow some simmering embers remained buried deep beneath the ashes.
When Kashton, known to his family as Kash, lost his balance, the laughter immediately turned to cries of pain as he slipped into the fire pit. CeAnn was less than a foot away from Kash and pulled him out within seconds, but the damage was done. The boy had burns running down his legs, ankles and feet.
Josef and CeAnn rushed him to the closest E.R. After tending to the wounds, the staff at the Williston facility told the Hills to take Kash to the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, which has a dedicated pediatric burn unit.
“When we got to UF Health, Kash and I were both screaming and crying for help,” said CeAnn. “The staff at the hospital jumped in quickly and wheeled us to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), so Kash could get the attention he needed.”
That was just the beginning of a more than six-week hospital stay for Kash. From the PICU, he was moved to a room on the fourth floor of the children’s hospital for continued monitoring and care. Every day, he had to be put under anesthesia so that his wounds could be evaluated and treated. In addition, he had three surgeries to debride the wounds, meaning damaged tissues were removed to promote healing. He also had skin grafts to transplant healthy skin.
UF Health pediatric surgeon Shawn Larson, M.D., who is the medical director for UF Health’s Pediatric Burn & Trauma Program, along with Lauren Indelicato, D.N.P, APRN, were involved in all of Kash’s surgical care.
“They are absolutely amazing,” CeAnn said. “Dr. Larson explained everything to us upfront and was super real. He made us feel confident that Kash would have a successful outcome. Lauren made us feel comfortable from Day 1.”
During his stay at UF Health, Kash hated to be in his room, so the Hills got to know the nursing staff on the floor pretty well.
“He loved riding around in the red wagons provided by the hospital, so we would take him around for walks all day long,” said CeAnn.
Despite his scars, Kash is doing amazingly well, his mother said. He is scheduled to have laser surgery at UF Health at the end of May to help loosen up the scars. In the next few years, Kash will likely need additional surgeries to loosen up the scars even more and to help his toes, which as a byproduct of the burns, do not touch the ground.
CeAnn said her son’s ordeal has not hindered him.
“Kashton is now 2 years old and loves to be active,” she said. “Running around and playing is actually really good physical therapy for him.’’
She said her family is very thankful for the care Kash has received at UF Health.
“We highly recommend UF Health and can’t say enough about the care we received,’’ CeAnn said. “We never had one bad experience. From the doctors to the nurses, physical therapists, financial advisers and receptionists, every single person made us feel at home. They became our family.”