Former Burn Patient Gives Back to UPMC Mercy with Magic Shows

By: Courtney Caprara

MercyMagician_150827_IMG_8011resizeAt this time last summer, 13-year-old Jordan Finkelstein was an outpatient at the UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Center after sustaining a second-degree burn to his left hand while making a glass paperweight at school. While he sat in the hospital waiting room during his post-treatment visits, he remembers being in tremendous pain due to his recent burn—but thankfully distracted when child life specialist Jessica Smith brought him an iPad to play with.

Now with his hand fully recovered and mostly scar-free, Jordan is back to one of his unique hobbies:  magic. Fascinated when he was younger by popular magicians like David Copperfield and David Blaine, Jordan used the internet to teach himself a wide variety of magic tricks that he uses to stun audience members of all ages, including patients at the hospital where he was treated.

When it came time to choose a service project for his upcoming bar mitzvah, Jordan wanted to use his magical talent to give back to a place that did so much for him. Recently, over the course of two days, “Jordazzle, Master of the Impossible” performed his magic for four hours in the UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Center waiting room.

MercyMagician_150827_IMG_7998resize“I got the idea from my sister, who is a singer,” Jordan said. “I can’t sing, but magic is a hobby that I’ve been practicing that I thought other people might enjoy.”

Jordan’s bag of tricks contained everything from playing cards and color-changing coins to pom-poms that permeate solid plastic cups. Patients of all ages watched Jordan’s performance with wide eyes and excitement.

Smith said distraction is a powerful tool for patients undergoing a difficult experience because it keeps their mind on something positive, rather than the negative.

“A 7-year-old patient, who previously had not walked more than 10 feet on his own since having a skin graft surgery, walked several hundred feet to our playroom to see Jordan’s magic show,” Smith said. “He was focused on the fun and excitement of the show rather than the pain of walking – and Jordan made it happen.”

Jordan’s parents, Alan Finkelstein and Lisa Schlar, looked on proudly as he performed. After seeing Jordan rebound from his injury and return to his place of treatment, Dr. Schlar said, “Jordan is a cool kid with a big heart. We are so proud of him.”