A 12-year-old returned to a South Florida hospital Tuesday to thank the doctors and nurses who saved his life after he suffered from severe burns from attempting a TikTok challenge.
Nick Howell spent more than two months at Kendall Regional last year, where he underwent several surgeries and procedures to recover from the burns all over his body. On Tuesday, he received a medal from the hospital to honor his bravery throughout his time there.
Aside from the support from medical staff at the hospital, his parents were also there every step of the way.
“They pushed me, enough to believe in myself to finish… and that’s where I am now,” Howell said.
Dr. Haaris Mir at Kendall Regional says Howell's treatment was complex and filled with complicated surgeries.
“We actually have to cut the burns off, and for a burn of this size, we send tissue to Boston to grow extra skin,” Dr. Mir explained.
The complicated and lengthy care Howell underwent turned into a relationship that his family and the staff say they’ll cherish forever.
“I feel like he’s one of my nephews,” Dr. Mir said. “Anyone that comes in that you take such intimate care of, they become family.”
Ariana Lorenzo is a child life specialist at the hospital. She’s there every step of the way to explain care to children and guide them through tough times.
“Seeing (Nick) in the beginning suffering and going through all that he went through, to seeing him now walking with such confidence…it’s a great story, it’s a miracle,” Lorenzo said.
One year after the traumatic accident, the family says the 12-year-old is doing much better.
“He accepts it, he walks around school and he can finally take off that sweater and show the scars and say, I did what I did, but here I am,” said his mother, Stela Guillen.
“He’s the bravest kid I know, and I don’t say that just because he’s my kid,” she added.
Now, Howell is doing everything he can to be there for others going through the same thing. His visit Tuesday included hanging out with other burn victims to encourage them to keep fighting, just like he did.
According to the hospital, Howell ended up with second-and third-degree burns on his arms, hands, legs, feet and trunk.