Burned boy reunited with family for the holidays

Friday, December 26, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two months after 2-year-old Spencer Molthan suffered burns on three-quarters of his body, the Liberty boy is back with his family for the holidays.

Spencer was burned Sept. 24 when a water heater in his home's basement, near the garage, exploded. Witnesses said the boy ran into the garage to retrieve a toy, and a minute later ran out engulfed in flames.

Since that day, he has been at Galveston Shriners Hospital in Texas. His mother, Tracey Molthan, has been staying with him in Texas while his father, Honce, has been splitting time between Texas and his mortgage loan job in Overland Park, Kan.

Spencer's sister, 4-year-old Josie, has been staying with her grandparents in Atlantic, Iowa, where the family is spending the Christmas holiday.

"It's the best Christmas that I can remember," Tracey Molthan said. "It's just awesome to be together."

For Josie, finally being able to cuddle up with her mom and little brother is almost like a dream.

Six skin graftsSpencer has endured six skin-graft surgeries so far, and is scheduled for another on Jan. 7 to relieve tightness in his thumbs, wrists, elbows and other areas.

Much of his time at the Texas hospital has been spent stretching and playing so that the skin grafts don't limit his flexibility. He walks slowly, Tracey said, but has regained the twinkle in his eyes.

"He'll live somewhat of a normal life," his father said, "but it will take a lot of work and dedication on our part, as well as his."

Tracey had gotten a jump on Christmas in August when a toy store went out of business, but those presents all were destroyed in the September fire. The family stockings are bulging, nonetheless, thanks to generous contributors who Tracey and Honce said they can't thank enough.

But the best part of the holiday season, they said, is being reunited.

"There are really no words to describe it," Honce said. "It's so nice to have everybody together."

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