By Michael Abeyta
GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– In October, three people were hurt in an oil tank battery explosion and fire near Briggsdale in Weld County. The most seriously injured was given a brand new treatment for burns and is leaving the hospital sooner than expected.
Dillon Dreher is walking around the halls of the Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, which is quite the accomplishment considering two months ago he was in serious condition.
The doctor who treated him, Dr. Lindsay Deeter, says, “Very significant burns from the get go so that makes for a critical patient you’re immediately pretty worried about.”
Dreher was burned on 65 percent of his body when the oil tank battery exploded at a site in Weld County in late October. After the explosion, debris could be seen strewn across the field from Copter4. It appears the lid of one oil tank flew about 100 yards from the site.
When he realized what happened, he knew his burns were bad, “At first… yeah… I didn’t want to see myself.”
He was rushed to North Colorado Medical Center where his doctor decided he was a great candidate for a new procedure called RECELL. It starts like a traditional skin graft where doctors take healthy skin from a part of the body that isn’t burned, but that’s where the similarities end.
“What we do is we take those, we’re able to put it in an enzyme in the OR and are able to separate some of those cells from the skin and basically create a solution of spray on skin,” said Deeter.
RECELL allows doctors to take less healthy skin from the donor site plus it cuts down on the number of procedure’s a burn patient needs and speeds up recovery time.
“So, on average, patients who are burned for each percent burned you’re estimated to be in the hospital for about one to one and a half days per total body surface area. Dillon was about 65 percent and he was able to leave the hospital about day 37,” said Deeter.
Dreher is one of the first people in the world treated with RECELL and he’s grateful so he can heal up quicker and get back home with his fiancé and daughter Lilly.
“I think she’s ready for me to start playing with her toys and stuff with her,” said Dreher.
Dillon is a fighter and is working hard to get back home. Deeter said that’s also helping to speed up his recovery.