Boy with Burns on 98% of His Body Is Now Thriving After Nearly 50 Surgeries (Exclusive)

At 2 years old, Owen Mahan was living in Lawrence, Kansas, when his biological mother filled a bathtub with scalding hot water and submerged him. She waited two hours to seek medical attention. The toddler suffered second- and third-degree burns to 98% of his body.

Owen was given a “0% chance to survive” before he was flown to Shriners Children’s Hospital — a pediatric facility specializing in burn care — in Dayton, Ohio.

“I was told that it was minute by minute and hour by hour,” his adoptive mother Susan Mahan tells PEOPLE.

Susan — from Brownsburg, Indiana — met Owen shortly after the accident when he was in need of a foster family.

“He was burnt, he had sores all over him. He was just a mess,” the 62-year-old recalls. “I loved him, but I needed to know that I could provide for him. All parents have to have food and clothing, the necessities, but for Owen, it’s a whole lot more than that. I needed to know that I could provide for him. And Shriners let me know they had that part covered.”

Now 16, Owen has undergone 47 surgeries at Shriners over the years.

Owen’s initial surgeries involved cleaning his wounds and removing dead skin. He is also a bilateral below-the-knee amputee and has had numerous skin grafting procedures.

With his injuries listed as “critical,” Susan — who is a mom of nine and grandmother of seven — has learned to care for Owen’s wounds at home in between his hospital visits. And while Owen has many more surgeries to come, Shriners will be there to support him.