Woman thanks Shriners for saving her life

A hush fell over the crowd as Darla Hansen sang “I’m all right” to the crowd of almost 200 Shriners gathered here last weekend.
The young woman with a sparkling voice was singing the story of her life to the people who helped save it.
“As a child at the age of four, on Nov. 4, 1966 my life was changed,” the confident Iowa native told the crowd on hand Saturday night to celebrate the Border Shrine Club’s 75th anniversary.
That day Hansen had been playing with matches.
“I took it out and I lit it and it got down to my fingertips and it was hot so I dropped it on my flannel nightgown,” she said.
Back then, children’s clothing didn’t have to be as flame retardant so her nightgown immediately caught fire.
“I tried to get to the bathroom to get it wet but I couldn’t get the taps to work,” she recalled.
By the time Hansen was rushed to a nearby hospital, she had burns over 80 percent of her body—three-quarters of which were third-degree ones.
“They told my family she won’t die today but prepare yourself and your family, she’ll die tomorrow.”
Each of Hansen’s five brothers and sisters were brought to a window to say good-bye, unable to enter due to risk of infections.
Their little sister’s head had swelled to the size of a basketball. Her skin was charred black, brown, or red. A patch of blonde hair was all that they recognized of little Darla.
Hansen slipped into a coma for three days.
Doctors, knowing they were unable to give Hansen the treatment she needed, placed her in the care of the Shriners. Just 15 days after the accident, she was flown to a Shriners hospital in Galveston, Texas.
Even on arrival, Hansen only was given a five percent chance to live.
Once there, she began the painful process of skin grafts as they took skin from every unburned part of her body—from her feet to her scalp.
Four-and-a-half months later, she left the hospital, but would return for years of treatments throughout her young life.
“There were other kids that had not been burned as badly who didn’t make it,” she said. “I do know that it’s a miracle I’m alive and a big part of that is the people sitting in this room.”
Hansen, now a mother of four, fought back tears as she tried to thank the Shriners for their help. “There is no way I will ever say thank you enough for the 14 years of free outstanding care. I can’t even describe that.”
To a standing ovation, Hansen sang, “Thank you for the love” to the room full of Shriners and their wives, ensuring they knew how much their efforts meant to one little girl.

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