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It was Christmas Day, with cousins playing tag and extended family cooking together outside over an open fire, when the unthinkable happened. Four-year-old Matthew Perez tripped and fell into a huge cooking pot cooling on the ground.

One arm, his shoulders and part of his chest were severely burned while the family was visiting on a ranch in rural Mexico, hours from medical care.

“We were faced with what to do. Do we leave? Do we try to get treatment down there?” says Matthew’s mother Anavel Perez. Even though family urged them to stay, by the next day Anavel knew the best place for her son would be at the burn center back home.

The family got an emergency flight back to San Jose and drove Matthew to Community Regional Medical Center as quickly as they could. “Matthew already had a high fever,” explains Anavel. “They started treating him in the emergency room and it made me at ease. I knew I was in the right place.”

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