Eighth annual Shop With a Doc brings smiles to faces of young burn patients

Tyrus McElven was a boy on a mission Tuesday night inside the Target in Evans.

 

Tyrus, who turns 9 next week, raced down toy aisles until he reached the back of the store where he gazed intently at the bike rack and chose the one he wanted.

The burn survivor was one of 40 young patients at Doc­tors Hospital’s Joseph M. Still Burn Center who shopped for toys with the assistance of doctors, hospital staffers, firefighters and other community members.

Shop With a Doc, organized by the burn center and South­eastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, allows chil­dren who have been hospitalized in the center’s intensive care unit to start their holiday season early.

Tyrus was among the first to spend his $150 Target gift card.

“He had a plan,” said his mother, Novella McGill.

In addition to the bike, Tyrus swapped out the remote-controlled helicopter he first placed in his cart for a green pogo stick.

“I’ll get the helicopter next year,” Tyrus said.

Tyrus became a patient at the burn center in February 2011 after his shirt caught fire. He was taken to the hos­pital with second- and third-degree burns covering 40 percent of his body, his mother said.

For the past four months, they have made the four-hour round-trip from Sumter, S.C., to the burn center for weekly follow-up visits.

Tyrus will require additional operations to treat his burns after already enduring several surgeries and skin graft procedures, McGill said.

“Day to day, I know it’s tough,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful for him to be around other kids.”

Johnna Ruffin, a physician assistant at the burn center, accompanied Tyrus and his mother on their shopping trip.

Ruffin said it’s great to be able to spread joy among the children.

“It’s a fun time,” she said. “These kids have gone through a lot of difficulty with their burns.”

The young shoppers arrived at Target in three stretch limousines and were greeted by Santa. They also were treated to dinner after they finished shopping.

Surgeon Zaheed Hassan said the event started as a way to bring smiles to their young patients’ faces.

“It is gratifying to see those sick, unhappy children so happy and running around after the toys, just like you’d like to see your own child,” he said.

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