Mike and a friend were coming back from Arizona, having visited the Grand Canyon and other areas of interest, when the pick up truck they were driving was hit in the rear end by a semi tractor-trailer. Upon impact, the gas tank punctured and exploded, filling the cab with flames.
Mike, wearing only shorts, a T-shirt and shoes and socks, was severely burned over much of his legs and arms as well as his face. His friend was injured only slightly, as Mike shielded her body with his own. Mike was burned over 51% of his body; he spent three months in the hospital in intensive care; he was on a ventilator to aid his breathing for 31 days and, he had kidney dialysis for fourteen days.
To help heal Mike’s burns and to prevent infection, he received skin transplants for 21 days and also received 20 units of blood. When Mike’s health started to improve, he began physical therapy. Once at home, Mike began rehabilitation therapy to learn to walk again and regain his balance. In addition he had to teach his hands and fingers how to function again. It took eight months for Mike’s thumb and pinkie finger to function normally – in terms of flexibility and mobility. According to Mike, therapy was, “a lot of hard work, a lot of pain and a lot of laughing,” as he goes on to say, “It’s a good thing I have a pretty good sense of humor or I might not have made it.”
During his recovery, Mike needed everyone’s help for the first time in a long time, and he learned some things about life and what is important. Given a second chance at life, Mike, though always thoughtful and considerate of others, really started living the way he felt he should. For one, Mike now tries each day to be a good person, to show compassion, to respect others and their background and to reach out to others.
Mike is reaching out to others through his volunteer work with elementary schools, where he is involved in encouraging kids to read and helping children with their reading skills. Mike also talks about the importance of being an organ and tissue donor. Because of numerous donors and their families’ consent, Mike is alive today and he knows, “what good it can do and the lives it saves.”