Articles Posted in Skin Graft

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An August 15 article in the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota told the story of firefighter Austin Whitney, who is in the long and painful process of recovering from severe burns across thirteen percent of his body. He received those second degree burns and third degree burns after the Coal Canyon wildfire trapped the 22-year-old and four fellow firefighters.

What is helping Austin to make the best recovery he can is this: the power of his mind. “His spirits are just out of this world. He is in such a good mindset,” said Robert Whitney, Austin’s father, from outside the hospital room just two days after Austin was burned. “He told me that this incident isn’t going to stop him from being a firefighter.”

Austin Whitney followed in the firefighting footsteps of his father, grandfather, and aunts and uncles. This summer was his first season with the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division, a state firefighting agency. But Austin started fighting fires when he turned 18, joining the Pringle Volunteer Fire Department–the same department as his father and grandfather. He joined the Cascade Volunteer Fire Department the following year, and is now a co-captain. “It overjoyed me to no end,” said Austin’s father. “It excited me that he would take an interest like this.”

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Over this past summer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a celebration for guests at the Great Lakes Burn Camp showed the huge amount of camaraderie shared by victims of severe burns and their families. This was the 17th annual camp, which lasts six days and is set alongside a beautiful lake.

Mike Longenecker, camp director and one of about 90 staff members and counselors overseeing this year’s 52 campers, said that it is very moving to see the joy this burn camp gives so many kids. “You’ve got to remember that these are kids with burn (scars) and they’re at an age where peers put image and looks under a microscope,” he said. “Burn camp gives these kids a week where they can look any way they want without having to worry [about exposing their scars], and be themselves.” Even with a skin graft to repair damaged skin, burn victims rarely look the same as before they were burned, so the psychological effects of burns are almost as serious as the physical effects.

Longenecker said he’s missed wedding anniversaries and his wife’s birthdays to run the burn camp, but he adds that she knew when they married that the annual camp visit means so much to him.

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On September 13, 2011, a 46-year-old man working at an alloy plant in Ottawa, Canada, was rushed to a hospital with second degree burns and third degree burns over 30 percent of his body, after being caught in a dust explosion and fire.

Local firefighters evacuated a warehouse at Masterloy Products Co. following an explosion that occurred in the plant’s dust collection unit, near a door. A burnt-out forklift was located next to the door at the time of the first explosion, and could have been the source of a second explosion. While a hazardous materials unit was dispatched to the blaze, no toxins were found at the site, which is fortunate for other workers who possibly were exposed to smoke inhalation.

The injured worker suffered second degree burns on his torso and third degree burns on his legs and back, said a paramedic team spokeswoman. He was taken to the trauma unit at The Ottawa Hospital, where his condition was listed as serious. The man was scheduled to be transported to a burn unit shortly thereafter. The paramedic spokesman added that the man may have also suffered a blast injury, which could have caused internal injuries to the man’s organs.

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A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle offered up the amazing story of Derek Thomas, a 19-year-old athlete who for the past year has endured indescribable pain during the process of healing from third-degree burns so severe that he was given a 1 percent chance of survival by doctors.

But he has made it through the ordeal, and is working not only on getting stronger but also on becoming just another person with a normal daily routine, which is a blessing too many of us take for granted.

One day in August 2010, Derek sat in an SUV that was returning him home to San Diego from athletic training in the mountains. As he dozed off, the driver swerved the SUV, and it skidded across lanes of traffic, rolled over, and grinded along on its side. It then burst into flames.

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In a blog post on April 26, we wrote about young kids from other countries who were getting life-altering surgery here in the United States to save them from a life of pain and disfigurement from severe burns.

Well, here is another such example, which is good news for a young victim of third-degree burns who lives in Congo. In Boston this week, a badly burned Congolese boy is recovering from reconstructive surgery at Shriners Hospital, and his expected quality of life is much better than it was before the surgery.

Unfortunately, he was playing hide-and-seek on the grounds of a power substation back home in Congo, and 9-year-old Yusuf Badibanga was nearly killed because of it. He came in contact with some of the equipment and suffered an enormous electric shock, and was badly burned to the point of severe disfigurement.

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This month, a young Iraqi boy disfigured by a car bomb in Iraq came to Long Island, NY for surgery that could give him a chance at a normal life. Zeenabdeen Hadi, now four years old, was barely a year old when the blast burned part of his face down to the bone.

The Global Medical Relief Fund helped bring the boy and his uncle to the United States. The two are staying at Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, NY and are expected to be there for several months. In addition to reconstructive surgery, doctors want to close a wound in Zeenabdeen’s forehead that could lead to a brain infection.

This is not the first time that young victims of severe burns in Iraq have been brought to the U.S. for life-altering and even life-saving treatment of injuries resulting from third-degree burns. In 2007, a six-year-old Iraqi boy, who was horribly scarred after he was set on fire by insurgents outside Baghdad, underwent surgery in Los Angeles to repair his badly burned face. The boy, known only as Youssif, will need almost a year and several more surgeries to recover. The American public responded generously to his needs, donating $300,000.