In September 2009, Hialeah Gardens police officer Steven Avila and his brother-in-law were working on a boat when it burst into flames.
Steven suffered severe burns over 65 percent of his body, including his arms and legs. He was rushed to UM/JM Burn Center at Ryder Trauma Center, where he underwent seven operations in two months.
One of the life-saving surgeries performed on Steven made international headlines.
Trauma surgeons at Ryder Trauma were the first in the world to use an internal warming method, Thermalgard XP, which helped circulate warm water through a series of balloons threaded into the patient’s veins through a catheter. This procedure kept Steven warm and prevented him from suffering from hypothermia, a condition known to affect burn victims and cause wound infection, adverse cardiac events, and other complications.
As a burn survivor, Avila has turned his traumatic experience into a message of hope.
“In my career, I often deal with victims of crime, and my experience has helped me understand what they’re dealing with,” he said. “I usually share my story with them and try to give them hope.”
Steven continued physical and occupational therapy for several months after being discharged. He is so thankful to the medical staff that helped him with his recovery.