Health Team

Carrboro man recalls treatment at Jaycee Burn Center

Posted July 16, 2009 5:45 p.m. EDT

— A Carborro man burned in plane crash as a teen says he finds yoga helps strengthen his body and his mind.

“I feel so much more comfortable in my body,” Blake Tedder, 24, said.

Tedder was burned during a small plane crash in the Colorado Rockies eight years ago. His father was the pilot, and the two helped each other to safety.

“My dad and I had pretty much the same burns,” Tedder said. “It was about …40 percent of our bodies.”

The two were flown to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

When patients arrive at the center, they are first brought to an area to bathe their wounds and remove dead skin, burn center Director Dr. Bruce Cairns said.

“The skin serves as our protector from the outside, and once it’s damaged, our ability to fight infection is very – it’s impaired,” Cairns said.

Infection was a problem for Tedder, he said, but he can't remember much about it or the several skin graft surgeries he underwent.

“I was under a medically induced coma for two months,” he said.

He woke up to go through more surgeries and therapy. His father was also treated there.

Burns and reconstruction surgery on their hands required months of healing and therapy.

Tedder was fortunate to avoid complications of smoke inhalation, a more common problem for patients burned in industrial accidents, such as the June 9 explosion at the ConAgra Foods plant in Garner.

“It gets in the lungs and damages it and can cause all kinds of secretion problems,” Cairns said.

As painful as the treatment experience was, Tedder said, he does have some fond memories.

“A fresh burn survivor is tough to look at on the eyes, and the nurses and doctors that take care of those patients, they're just angels,” he said.

Tedder's father also recovered from his burns. He died from cancer several years after his recovery.

Tedder goes back often to visit hospital staff and the patients they serve. He tries to offer hope to those burn victims.

“I’ve come a long way. I am a burn survivor, and because of that, I have a lot to offer people,” he said.