[WARNING: Story contains images that may be graphic to sensitive readers]
Cape Town - One of the heroes of the Devils Peak blaze has returned home to the delight of his wife and two children after spending four months in hospital being treated for severe burns.
The Eerste River firefighter was discharged from the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital on Tuesday after having been admitted on April 18, the day the fire at Philip Kgosana Drive broke out.
After 11 days in hospital, he stood for the first time, while on a ventilator, supported by hospital staff.
He suffered severe burns to his face, neck, arms, and hands. The tips of his fingers had be amputated.
Speaking to the Cape Argus, the firefighter, who asked not to be named, said he had been fighting fires for 14 years, referring to it as a personal calling.
On his stay at the hospital, he said, “I received a lot of care but because of this pandemic, sometimes it is difficult for you to get visitors and especially when you’ve got family.
“I used to ask him (the doctor) a lot to see my kids. He must write a letter to say my kids can come in with my wife, because we were only allowed one visitor.”
Looking out at Table Mountain from his hospital room, he said: “I've been waiting for this for a long time. I’m happy especially to see my kids, my family, because my wife was supportive from the start.
“I can't wait to leave. For me to go home to my kids is a surprise, they don't know that I'm coming.”
He added: “I am still proud of myself as a firefighter. No matter about my career being over, I am still a fireman.”
He underwent about 25 operations. Trauma surgeon Dr Denis Allard said the firefighter had suffered burns to 17% of his body.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Nick Kairinos said the burns on his hands were severe, with bone exposed which had seemed burnt.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ian Koller said the focus would now be on outpatient rehabilitation, working on hand functioning and mobility. This could take six months to a year.