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Reconstructive Surgery
Randy Brown

By Kristine Gresh

Randy Brown was just nine months old when he burned his hands on his family’s woodburning stove, but the skin grafting had to wait until he was five years old when there was enough skin on his legs to do the reconstructive surgery.

His injury was in 1953. The wobbly, but quick, nine-month-old Randy touched the stove door that had been dropped down for a second. In the few years before the surgery, his fingers curled up, so the job of staff at Children’s Hospital was to straighten his fingers as much as possible, perform the skin grafting, and give the boy as normal of a life as they could. They succeeded. So much so in fact, that in high school he was the guitar player in a rock band! Brown knows his life was altered and he admits he grew up somewhat limited (he was limited with athletics) but he is thankful to Children’s Hospital for giving him the chance to use his hands in ways that would have been impossible without the proper surgery and aftercare.

Brown is often asked if he remembers the pain of the burns - thankfully, he doesn’t - but he does remember the pain of missing his family. Not only was this five-year-old having major surgery in the summer of 1958, but his parents could only make weekend trips from Spring Valley, the rural town where the family lived. His father worked and his mother had other children to care for (who were too young to visit him at all.) What got him through some of those days? What does he remember now, all these years later? “Probably the thing I remember the most was the nurses. They were my mom. They were my mother.” He still gets emotional when talking about his caregivers, more so than anything else, saying “I don’t remember a lot, but it really is amazing when I just started thinking, how much I can remember, even faces of those nurses.”

He is, of course, fond of the physicians that worked on him as well, saying, “…they basically gave me a life.” Brown acknowledges that repairing burn injuries is a difficult task, one that comes with the risk of infection, which is why he assumes those daily shots (another memory he can unfortunately recall vividly) were necessary.

Now, with a rock band under his belt, a successful family furniture business in Florence, and women in his life that surround him with love, including his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter, Brown is thankful to Children’s Hospital, the doctors, “those wonderful nurses,” and he is proud to be a “Child of Children’s.”
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