Lori Mabry gained valuable experience working through the ranks of the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation after graduating from Georgia State University as a Communications Major. Starting as an intern, Lori was hired as Programs Assistant in 2006 and later served as Special Events Coordinator and Resource Development. She continued to manage many other responsibilities there until leaving in 2013 to become the Director of the Georgia Trauma Foundation.
When I was 13 years old, I was a passenger in a friend’s car when she lost control. The car flipped and, because none of us had our seat belts on, we were all ejected. It landed with its wheels on top of me, and the hot catalytic converter across my abdomen. I was pinned like that for nearly an hour while they worked to free me. They finally had to use airbags to lift the car off of me.
At the burn center, I underwent hours of surgery. I had lost all skin and muscle tissue. Some of the burns had gone all the way into my organs.
“They had never seen injuries like this before, so no one was sure what would happen. I wasn’t expected to survive the night.”
They kept me in a drug-induced coma for 70 days while they performed over 30 surgeries to rebuild my abdomen with skin grafts from my legs and back. Once awake, they were still unsure if I could breathe, sit up, walk, or do anything. The long-term effects were a giant question mark. I underwent intensive physical therapy and thankfully was able to breathe on my own. After 111 days, I was discharged to my mom’s care.
That next summer, I went to a camp for burn-injured children. I just wanted to get back to a normal life and my doctor, Dr. Still, insisted upon it. It completely changed my life. I met a lot of people who had been through similar trauma. Just being able to share and give back some support really changed me and helped me get back into life. I was really inspired by the camp volunteers: nurses, firefighters, EMTs, teachers. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and compassion of this entire community. I was so inspired, I kept going back for a few years and went through their volunteer program.
Dr. Still paid my college tuition. He was an extraordinary man with an extraordinary heart, who helped many people just like me. I majored in Communications at Georgia State, and took an internship with the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.
When the Georgia Trauma Commission wanted to develop a foundation to support the trauma center in Georgia, they offered me the directorship. Last year was about planting seeds. Now we’re starting to water them and make them grow. It’s my way of trying to continue what I feel Dr. Still envisioned for me.