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Fire victims in Valencia need surgery

first_imgVALENCIA – In the hours after violinist David Ewart and his father and son were severely burned when the family home caught fire, hundreds of people gathered to pray, to collect donations and to replace the Christmas gifts that went up in flames. As they hoped for the best for the three generations caught in Tuesday’s early morning fire in Valencia, friends talked about Ewart, a renowned musician and beloved family man. Mary Berg recalled a missionary trip they took together to Peru, where Ewart, formerly with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, forged bonds with the Amazon tribes people through music and sports. “They have never seen a violin until a year and a half ago,” she said. “They wouldn’t let him stop playing.” “Depending on how they do from a health standpoint, they may go back to surgery Monday or Tuesday where we will re-evaluate them and determine what condition their skin is in, to see if they are ready for their own skin grafts or another round of debridement and grafting of cadaver skin.” Because of hospital privacy laws, Grossman could not be specific about each of the Ewarts’ procedures. Debridement is a cleansing process that involves a variety of ways of removing dead skin and is administered with the patient under general anesthesia. “In order to heal, you have to remove the unhealthy tissue and speed up the process by covering the area with a biological dressings,” Grossman said. “First, we try scraping the unhealthy tissue off. If that doesn’t work, we try dermabrasion, in which we use a high-speed sander to remove the dead tissue. If that doesn’t work, we do a procedure called a tangential excision, where layer after layer of tissue is shaved away until we reach a wound bed that shows viability.” Grossman said a whole new set of problems can develop after the debridement process is complete, particularly the risk of infection. Also, the severity of burns can change from the initial diagnosis because of lack of blood supply to the affected area. After surgery today, doctors will monitor their progress to see how well the grafts are taking. If they see the wound bed is healing, it is a good indicator that the patient’s own skin will take. Meanwhile, worried Valencia Hills residents – some of them the very neighbors who took in the burn victims at dawn Tuesday – gathered that night and met with firefighters. “It was standing room only,” said Leah Thompson, the homeowner association manager who helped coordinate a community meeting. “People asked about getting help for grief counseling or take advantage of community services, the Fire Department did a Q and A and gave us some tips on how to be careful during the holiday season and throughout the year. “Having a plan was something they emphasized. They told us every family has to have an exit plan and that there should be two exits to every room.” Participants also made contributions to the David Ewart Catastrophe Fund at the Wells Fargo Bank branch in Stevenson Ranch. People have signed up to deliver meals to family members and some students from Hart High School donated some Christmas gifts to replace those that were lost. About 100 people attended a prayer service Tuesday night at Church of the Nazarene. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County firefighters have not determined the cause of the fire, reported about 6 a.m. Tuesday. The family, which had hosted a big holiday party the night before, escaped from an upstairs window as flames shot 80 feet in the air. Investigators found four parakeets that had died inside the house. HOW TO HELP To make a contribution to the David Ewart Catastrophe Fund, send checks to Wells Fargo Bank, 25850 The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch. Checks must reference account number 8606155136. — Staff Writer Eugene Tong contributed to this story. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Ewart, who coaches youth sports in Santa Clarita, also tried to teach American-style football to local children, calling out plays in Spanish, even though the tribe spoke a different tongue, Berg said. “He would make a fool of himself if it made the kids happy,” she said. On Wednesday, Ewart, father Hugh, 81, and son Michael, 15, were being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. His mother, another son and a daughter suffered minor injuries. “The three of them – grandfather, father and son – are in serious but stable condition,” Dr. Peter Grossman said. “We anticipate taking all of them to surgery (today) for debridement, or removal of unhealthy tissue.” Grossman explained that the patients’ wounds would then be covered with a temporary biological dressing, possibly cadaver skin or synthetic skin no greater than .006 of an inch thick.last_img read more