Man Says He Owes His Life To Ohio State Burn Center

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UPDATED: Wednesday February 26, 2014 11:20 AM

10TV took a look inside the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Burn Center, at how a skilled group of doctors and nurses is helping burn patients beat the odds.

One patient who beat the odds is Michael Clark of Newark. He is living a life that doctors didn't think was possible. Clark was severely burned when his house exploded due to natural gas in May of 2012.

Clark described the event, “I went outside to smoke a cigarette and the house
blew up".

That is all Michael Clark remembers from the night that his world literally burned down.

 “The garage exploded and the rest of the houses implode.”

Michael says his first instinct was to run back to the house and rescue his fiancé and 10 month old daughter.

Clark thought to himself at the time of the fire, “If we're all going to perish we're going to perish together.”

He nearly died trying to save them from the fire.

Clark’s fiancé, Dakneeka Palmer, calls Clark her hero.

 “When I met him in our living room his chest was still on fire,” said Palmer. “He was just so aware that we were still in the house he came back in that was amazing, a miracle in fact.”

The rescuing of his family would be one of many miracles.

It has been nearly two years since the explosion, and doctors say Michael Clark is a living example of how burn victims are getting a second chance at life.

For four months after the fire, doctors and nurses in the Ohio State Burn Center fought to save Michael’s life.

Dr. Gayle Gordillo, Plastic Surgeon at OSU Burn Center, said, “It’s the reason why you get into medicine to make people’s lives better.”

The flames from the fire were so intense that the heat burned the pigment off of Clark’s face.

Many of Clark’s burns were third degree, which is what doctors call deep tissue burns.

His fiancé said he was almost unrecognizable.

 “His face was completely white - that's when I realized how bad it was,” said Daneeka.

Unfortunately things became worse for Clark. While in the intensive care unit his organs began to shut down.

"Everything that could shut down shut down except for my heart,” he said.

Just when nurses in the ICU felt that Michael had given up on life, they brought to his bedside the one thing they knew would give him hope, which was his daughter.

His fight required numerous skin grafts from donor sites on his body. It was Clark’s best defense against infection and survival.

Dr. Larry Jones, who leads the OSU Burn Center Team, explained, “We've made great strides in terms of survivability; and he doesn't need any antibiotics for this.”

Jones is a surgeon with three decades of experience in advanced burn trauma and even he said that when Michael arrived the prognosis wasn’t good.

 “He tried to die several times,” said Jones.

But he survived and Dr. Jones says that is what this burn center is all about: beating the odds.

"You have a patient like that, taken somewhere else probably wouldn't survive.”

Doctors say Clark still has a long way to go before reaching a complete recovery.

Clark expressed that without the Ohio State Burn Center, he would probably be dead.

He hopes that his story will inspire others that there is still life after suffering a massive burn like his.

Clark gratefully admits that The Ohio State University saved his life.

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