A biopsy of skin from Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern has been sent to a cell-processing plant to grow the firefighter’s own skin to help in his recovery.
The new skin will be used as skin grafts for Dern, who was burned over 70% of his body on Sunday when he fell through a garage roof while fighting a house fire and was engulfed in flames.
His heroism has been reciprocated with fundraisers (an online donation page at youcaring.com was approaching $100,000 in pledges Friday evening) and blood drives, including one Friday in Fresno.
A video of Dern falling through the garage roof has drawn national attention and he has received an outpouring of support. Dern has been chosen as ABC News’ “Person of the Week” to be profiled Friday during “ World News Tonight,” said Fresno Fire spokesman Pete Martinez.
About 50% of Dern’s burns were third-degree or full-thickness, which require skin grafting procedures. Skin grafts provide a permanent skin replacement for deep dermal (second degree) and full thickness burns.
Dern had surgery Wednesday to remove dead skin and for temporary skin grafts. A dressing change is planned for Saturday and another surgery on Monday, said Sandra Yovino, clinical director of the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional Medical Center.
Dern remains in critical condition and has been breathing with the assistance of a ventilator since the surgery Wednesday, Yovino said.
Several blood drives have been organized. Dern will need blood transfusions in his recovery. People can donate blood until 3 p.m. Friday at American Ambulance at Tulare Avenue and Highway 41 and a benefit in conjunction with the grand opening of the Broken Yolk Cafe in Bakersfield is Friday and continues Saturday. The restaurant is selling $50 tickets for a breakfast for two, with all proceeds to benefit Dern.
On Monday, the Visalia Fire Department will have a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Central California Blood Center, 1515 S. Mooney Blvd. Tacos will be provided at the drive by Chapalas from 11 a.m. until they run out.
The Fresno Fire Department is organizing a blood drive Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Clawson Honda and Clawson Motorsports, 6346 N. Blackstone Ave. in northeast Fresno.