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Mother and son recover from debilitating burn by giving back and practising 'superpower'


SOOKE, B.C. — Although he’s not faster than a locomotive yet, and despite effortless flips on his trampoline, still unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Levi Choo is developing superpowers of sorts.

“I got these when I was a baby,” Levi says.

The now six-year-old got the scars on his hands when he was eight months old — so the origin story goes — during a getaway with his parents.

“There was a fire at the hotel we were sleeping at,” Levi says.

Little Levi actually touched the glass cover on the fireplace in their room. Although it had been turned off, it was still hot, and badly burned his hand.

“As a mother, you don’t forget that kind of cry,” Breanna Choo says.

Breanna will also never forget racing to Emergency, with her baby’s hands wrapped in cold cloths.

“By the time we got to the hospital the cloths were very hot,” Breanna recalls. “Like they had steam coming off them.”

It was the beginning of a year-long journey that included visits to multiple hospitals, skin graft surgery and Levi learning to live with his little hands wrapped away or confined to cast.

Instead of crawling on his hands, he would army-crawl on his arms. Instead of picking up food with his fingers, he would place his forearms together to lift to his mouth.

“That was really amazing to watch, that he adapted,” Breanna says. “He was eight and a half months old and he’s taking this better than we are.”

But despite Levi’s remarkable resilience, Breanna and her husband remained racked with guilt.

“But then I tapped into this other part of me,” Breanna says. “I got to let other people know that this can just happen.”

So Breanna now volunteers to raise awareness about burn prevention, and helps support the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, and their Hometown Heroes Lottery fundraiser.

“That’s my path now,” Breanna says. “I’m not going to sit here and feel bad for us that it happened. I want to help it not happen to other people.”

Which brings us back to Levi, who proudly shows off his scars.

“They sometimes hurt and feel itchy,” Levi says of the deep, dark scars on the palm of his hands. “[But] they’re cool!”

“He uses those hands really good,” Breanna smiles, watching how Levi can now build intricate heroes out of LEGO, just like his siblings.

And when I ask what his superpower would be, Levi fearlessly proclaims, “Fire!”

Levi says if there was a boy — separated from his family by a wall of ice — he would shoot fire from his hands and melt it so they could be reunited.

“If [people] are in danger you need to make sure they’re safe and not hurt,” Levi says. “You need to help them.”

Because after being supported by so many healthcare heroes, and after watching his mom give back, Levi has learned the greatest power is the one we can all learn to wield — helping others.

Ticket sales from the Hometown Heroes Lottery support VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, raising essential funds for specialized adult health services at VGH and UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, and Vancouver Community Health Services. They also support Burn Fund programs, such as the Home Away program, which offers accommodations to burn and trauma survivors at the Burn Fund Centre in Vancouver, mental health support for burn survivors and fire fighters, as well as the annual Burn Camp for young burn survivors. Top Stories

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