‘Brave Maeve’ helps MUSC South Carolina Pediatric Burn Center and Shriners announce affiliation

November 16, 2022
A young woman stands on the far left of a sign. A woman holding a girl and a young man are on the right.
Maeve Clark, in her mother Kaitlin's arms, watches as a sign for the South Carolina Pediatric Burn Center is unveiled. Photos by Sarah Pack

A little girl nicknamed “Brave Maeve” for her courage while she was being treated for a burn injury helped the Medical University of South Carolina and Shriners Hospitals for Children launch a new affiliation to support the only statewide burn center for kids. The South Carolina Pediatric Burn Center is based at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston.

MUSC President David Cole said the collaboration will ensure kids like Maeve always have access to the highest-quality treatments and research for burn care. “As a part of this affiliation, Shriners Children's has generously provided MUSC a $3 million grant to establish the Shriners Children's Endowed Professorship in Pediatric Burn Care. This will have matching funds provided by MUSC. Together that makes an awesome forward leap in terms of the resources we have for our children.”

A Shriner wearing a cap speaks at a podium. 
Shriner Dr. Leslie Stewart, at the podium, says his organization has treated thousands of burn patients from all over the world.

Cole called it a great example of public and private entities coming together for an initiative that’s in the best interest of the citizens of the state and region. “Together, our mutual goal is to establish cutting-edge research and the best-in-class pediatric burn care delivery for generations to come. The culmination of years of work, it represents a community that has come together and is working in partnership for the greater good.”

The affiliation means an expansion of the existing burn care offered by the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, the only pediatric burn referral center in the state. Steven Kahn, M.D., serves as chief of burn surgery at the South Carolina Burn Center at MUSC Health. “When I first started doing burn care in the early- and mid-2000s, we were really focused on patient survival. Now we don't just want patients to survive. We want them to thrive, reintegrate in society and get back to doing everything they used to do,” Kahn said.

MUSC President Dr. David Cole is seated as he listens to a Shriner at a podium speak. They are in a conference room. 
MUSC President Dr. David Cole, center, listens to a speaker at the news conference.

Patients such as Maeve Clark are thriving. Maeve’s mother, Kaitlin Clark, described the scary day that led to her time in the burn unit. “After pulling unsecured hot tea off of the counter, she suffered second and third degree burns to about 20% of her body, her face, chest, back, left arm and hand. We were in our local community hospital within 15 minutes, and immediately upon arrival, transport was in motion for transfer here to MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. It's about 50 miles from our home,” Clark said.

“Upon arrival to MUSC, we were wrapped up in the confidence and compassion of the care here, from the ED to our admission to the pediatric burn center within their PICU,” she said, referring to the pediatric intensive care unit. “I instantly knew we were in the right place for our little girl, the welcome and care that greeted us, letting us know that this is what they do.”

Rows of people in business clothing look toward a podium. 
The audience at the news conference announcing the affiliation between MUSC and the Shriners.

Leslie Stewart, M.D., a member of the Board of Trustees for Shriners Children’s, said MUSC is a good fit for an organization with a history of helping kids. “We started our first burn center, and we kind of argued about when it was, 1962, 1964, but we started taking care of burns back then. Since then, Shriner's Hospitals for Children have treated thousands of burn patients from all over the world. More importantly, we have trained hundreds of surgeons in pediatric burn care, or many consider one of our hospitals one of the best pediatric burn hospitals in the world, if not the best. We currently have four burn centers, and now we'll be adding MUSC to our list with our endowed professorship.

Jerry Gantt, chairman of the Shriners Children’s Board of Trustees, said the grant will help children beyond South Carolina. “We're here today to be able to make the world a better place through hope and healing that will come together not only by MUSC but with the partnership and relationship that Shriners can bring to that organization to be able to make a shining light for kids in not only South Carolina but surrounding states.”

Kaitlin and Maeve Clark sit at a table with Dr. Steven Kahn. Kaitlin is smiling. Maeve is looking at a water bottle. Dr. Kahn is listening to a speaker. 
Kaitlin Clark listens to a speaker as Maeve plays with a water bottle. Dr. Steven Kahn, chief of burn surgery at the South Carolina Burn Center at MUSC Health, sits beside them.

That shining light can have a big impact. Getting the best care for a burn injury calls for more than medicine. Maeve’s mom said she was grateful to have a team that understood everything from how burn wounds progress, how children respond to the trauma, how to meet kids’ developmental needs to how the injury affects the family. “We're grateful to be here today at this special event that will only make the exceptional care we already receive here at MUSC even more,” she said at the news conference announcing the affiliation, Maeve in her arms.

“While my husband and I will never forget the accident that happened to our daughter, we are glad to say that she almost certainly will because of the quality of care Maeve received here. She won't have to worry about her injury impacting her future."

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