Nine months to the day. That's how long it's been for 9-year-old Isabella McCune and the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center staff.
After a grueling recovery, her smile was even bigger Monday. Isabella got the news she’s been praying for: She got the go-ahead to go home. But first, she and her parents, Lilly and JD McCune, wanted to say, “Thank you” to some very deserving VIPs.
A sparkling, specially decorated "gift" rolled into to the modular unit just outside the Arizona Burn Center where two Phoenix Fire Department firefighters were waiting.
“You guys are really nice, and you helped a lot,” Isabella said in a loud whisper--just loud enough for fire truck engineers David Ford and King Brewster to hear.
The two men then happily exchanged hugs and handshakes with her parents, and Ford gave Isabella a kiss on the forehead for being a beacon of hope and inspiration over the last nine months.
“Very, very strong little girl, beautiful little girl,” Ford said. “I'd be proud to have her as my daughter, and I have six of 'em,” he added.
Following the fiery accident at a Phoenix home, the staff at the Arizona Burn Center knew Isabella had a tough road ahead of her, that is, until they realized just how tough she was.
“She was really remarkable, under the most horrifying circumstances that there could be,” said Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center.
Foster said Isabella endured a number of surgeries and treatments, a very bad infection, and a blood clot that found its way to her heart.
Isabella says she gathered strength from her family, the burn center staff and at least one outside admirer, Taylor Swift.
In May 2018, seven weeks after her accident, Isabella met her idol in the hospital. She asked Swift back then, “Taylor, can I have a hug? And she said, ‘Yeah, I just didn't want to hurt you.’ So she gave me a hug,” Isabella said.
At Monday’s going away event, she recalled, “(Swift) was as nice as she seems, and she was really tall.”
Her nine-month journey was on a new path, too, going home.
“I feel so much better from the first day I was here to now. I barely have any pain anymore,” Isabella said confidently.
She says she’s looking forward to the day when she can walk all the time. Until then, she’s looking forward to one thing"
"I'm looking forward to sitting on my couch,” she announced to a big laugh.