The Chandler Family

On September 20, 2009 Carla and Scott Chandler of WestField, New Brunswick where faced with an unfathomable situation. Their eldest son Keenan was lit on fire in a tragic backyard accident.

The family immediately placed Keenan in a cold shower and called 911. At the Saint John Regional Hospital, doctors put Keenan in an induced coma. He had burns on thirty percent of his body and inhalation burns all the way down to his lungs. Doctors predicted Keenan would not survive past 48 hours.

Because of the severity of Keenan’s internal burns, he was airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The IWK is a four and a half hour drive from the Chandler home. “I came home and threw clothes in the car, not knowing when I’d be back. My husband was airlifted along with Keenan,” said Carla. “Keenan was unrecognizable. The only way I recognized him was when I saw his birth mark.”

At the IWK, Keenan was in a coma for eleven days. He then contracted tracheitis, which is inflammation of the trachea. Soon after, both of his lungs collapsed and became full of blood clots.

“Despite the daunting road, Keenan survived the first 48 hours and we breathed a little bit, but we also knew a long road lay ahead. When Keenan awoke, he had intense hallucinations because of the pain and medications. He thought he awoke minutes after the accident and everything was on fire. We had to explain that it was eleven days later and that he was out of danger. It was an incredibly emotional time for all of us.” Carla added.

Carla, Scott and their youngest son Josiah stayed at the IWK full-time for the first month. Since then they have made the long drive to the IWK every three months for additional surgeries.

“With my husband who, in addition to his work, also volunteers as a firefighter, and myself working full-time we have to worry about travel costs, medicine and the procedures. The kindness of strangers, our family and friends have helped us stay afloat,” said Carla.

One of the Chandler family members told them about the Irving Oil Fuel the Care program. Carla spoke with their social worker at the Saint John Regional Hospital, Stefan Meldenberger, who quickly set them up in the program. “At first I was under the impression it was a one-time gift, but was excited to find that this incredible program continues to provide us with much needed assistance throughout the rough times. Families are reluctant to look for handouts, but the money you save on gas is money that goes toward medical bills,” Carla said. “Recovery has been hard and we still have difficult obstacles to overcome, but Keenan is back in school surrounded by his great friends and teachers.”