Donors made a life’s difference for Dave
FOUR months ago Dave Andersen knew nothing about organ and tissue donation, but after receiving burns to 90 per cent of his body when the boat he was skippering caught fire en route to Long Island in April, he became an expert.
Burnt from the neck down, he’s now a walking miracle, largely due to the numerous skin grafts and medical expertise he received during the first stages of his recovery.
“I had no idea about donation,” he said, while being interviewed by national media at the launch of DonateLife Week in Queensland last week.
“I had no idea someone who had died could donate skin; skin that allowed my body to heal. I find it all amazing.”
With his wife Simone and two boys, Alex and Dan, by his side in Brisbane since that fateful day, Mr Andersen’s recovery has astounded even his doctors.
Acting director of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Burns Unit Dr Jason Brown said severe burns to 90 per cent of the body were usually considered a “death sentence”.
“Most people with burns this size do not survive and, at best, become organ donors themselves,” he said.
“Not only did Dave survive, he had an amazing recovery.
“The fact that he smashed the odds, and spent less than one day in hospital for each percentage of skin burnt is a miracle.”
All up, Mr Andersen spent six weeks in ICU, four weeks in the burns unit and two weeks in rehab before leaving hospital.
His recovery required se- ven trips to the operating room, 40 units of blood and enough donor skin to cover his entire body at least once.
He continues to receive physio treatment daily and has to wear a full body suit 23 hours a day.
While he can move around, remaining scar tissue means he still needs help to do things around home.
His wife Simone remembers the first few days after the explosion as “surreal”.
“It was like walking around in a nightmare,” she said, adding their two boys had been a “rock”.
“Some days when I cried they would give me a hug and tell me that he’d be ok (and) that gave me the strength to keep going,” she said.
The many friends and family who rallied around the Andersens back here in Airlie Beach with the “What a diffe- rence a Dave makes campaign” will be pleased to know their sense of humour is still well in tact.
“We’ve never taken ourselves too seriously – the boys said to me the other day ‘Hey dad; you’re fired’, and Simone reckons I’m ‘hot’,” Mr Andersen joked.
DonateLife Week runs from Sunday August 2 – Sunday, August 9.
FIREBALL: The boat Dave Andersen was skippering burst into flames en route to Long Island in April this year.