Donors made a life’s dif­fer­ence for Dave

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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