An August 2009 house fire left 5-year-old Brantson Smith with third-degree burns over approximately 15 percent of his body. “He was burned on his face, neck, hands and his left shoulder,” said his mother, Misty Smith.
Brantson was rushed to the hospital in nearby Talladega where doctors immediately determined he needed to be taken to Children’s of Alabama for treatment. “As soon as he came through the door, they were on the phone calling Children’s to come and get him,” Smith said. Brantson was flown to Birmingham in Children’s specially-equipped helicopter manned by members of the hospital’s Critical Care Transport Team.
Brantson was admitted to the Burn Unit at Children’s, a specialized six-bed unit that is the only pediatric burn unit in the state and the largest in the southeastern U.S. During his two months in the unit, he underwent six surgeries to graft skin and repair damage from his burns. After his discharge from the hospital, he returned twice a week for therapy. “They would massage the scar tissue in the areas where he was burned to keep it from getting too thick and to stretch the tissue,” Smith said.
Over the past two years he has had eight additional surgeries to release scar tissue and improve his mobility, especially in his hand. “He will have to have more surgeries, just not right on top of each other. We’re looking at about one surgery a year,” Smith said.
Because of the time they have spent at Children’s and the support they have received, Smith says that Brantson’s doctors and nurses are “like family.” Each summer, Brantson also goes to Camp Conquest, a four-day camp for patients who have been treated in Children’s Burn unit, held at the Lake Martin campus of Children's Harbor.
Now 9, Brantson is a resilient little boy with an engaging personality who loves to play soccer, ride his bicycle, and sing. “All the nurses at Children’s know him as the little boy who sings, and right now, he’s trying to learn how to play the guitar,” Smith said.
“If there’s anything he can’t do, he figures out a way to do it. He has never let this bring him down. He’s never changed through the whole thing. He’s always been the same kid who makes friends wherever he goes,” his mother said.