Chris Rotella

In July 2016, 27-year-old Chris Rotella and a friend were working on a 34-foot cabin cruiser in a canal in Fort Lauderdale, when the boat suddenly exploded. Chris suffered burns to 60 percent of his body and was rushed to the UM/JM Burn Center at Ryder Trauma Center.

“I could see the flames flying off my arm, coming off my legs,” remembers Chris.

Chris had inflammation around his lungs and heart, and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen into his bloodstream.

“I feel great now. I am still in pain. I still have thoughts of the accidents. I’m very lucky to be alive. I’m very appreciative of everything and everyone at the burn center.”

Chris Rotella

He was placed under a medically induced coma for 12 days while he received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a treatment commonly referred to as ECMO, in which a machine takes over the work of the lungs and the heart to allow those organs time to rest and recover.

Chris spent 30 days in the intensive care unit and was discharged from the hospital 18 days later. He also underwent physical and occupational therapy for several months.