The March 8 blaze that devastated four homes was only the second fire of the rookie firefighter’s career, having joined his unit, Ladder Company 163 — nicknamed the Woodside Warriors — just a few months earlier.
Over the course of James’ three-week stay, Dr. Chang and his colleagues performed two surgeries on him, initially with allografts (skin grafts from donated tissue) that came from New York-Presbyterian’s skin bank, and later with skin grafts taken from other parts of James’ body. Finally, on March 31, James left the hospital alongside his mother and father — and was met with applause by a crowd of friends, family members, and fellow FDNY colleagues.
“He’s been in pretty good spirits, although when you have burns like that, it’s a very rough road,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens told ABC 7 New York.
James, 30, is expected to heal completely. “He has a number of weeks of rehabilitation ahead of him in terms of regaining his strength and full range of motion in both arms,” Dr. Chang said. “But we anticipate he will make a full recovery and be able to return to the line of duty eventually.”
Watch James Spoto’s full story here.