MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A challenge on TikTok landed a young Florida boy in the hospital with second and third-degree burns. Now, he’s on a mission to help other burn victims.
Nick Howell, 12, was in South Florida from Orlando to visit family in October 2020, when he decided he wanted to try something he’d seen on social media.
“It was rubbing alcohol and a lighter,” Howell told CBS4’s Brooke Shafer on Tuesday. “I poured rubbing alcohol on the floor and then I put it out, and then the bottle caught on fire and exploded.”
Howell, then 11-years-old, was airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center with burns on a large portion of his body.
“It’s scary to see your son screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy’, on fire,” said Nick’s mom, Estela Howell.
Howell’s doctor said the young boy was seriously injured when he was admitted to the hospital.
“Nick came in in a pretty bad situation. He had third-degree burns on about 35 to 40 percent of his body,” said. Dr. Haaris Mir, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the Director of the Burn Center at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Howell was immediately admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, where he spent 2 months. On Tuesday morning, the doctors and nurses who treated him back to health surprised the now 6th grader with a medal for a year of recovery.
“I brought a broken baby, and they gave me back my baby in one piece,” said Estela Howell about the staff at Kendall Regional. “They’re like family. I will forever be in debt to Dr. Mir and the entire team.”
Howell now hopes to use his scars and his story to help other kids and burn victims.
“Since I already did it, I want to help them get through everything too,” he said.