As crews continue what seems to be a never-ending task of sorting through rubble and destruction, there are signs of lives being rebuilt. Manu Dhingra, a severely burned World Trade Center survivor, was released from the hospital this week.
Like so many unsuspecting people on that morning of September 11th, Dhingra was just stepping off the elevator on the 83rd floor when his life changed course in an instant
"I made a right to go towards my office and suddenly I just heard an explosion and from the side and back I was just engulfed in a big ball of fire," said Dhingra
With burns over 40 to 50 percent of his body he was rushed to the burn unit at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.
22 of the most severely burned survivors were brought here in the days after the attack. As the busiest burn unit in the nation, the staff here is used to stress, but director Roger Yurt describes those days as a blur.
"Really there was so much work going on we didn't have time to think," he says.
Caring for burn victims requires special skills and round the clock care to stave off shock, pneumonia, infections and excruciating pain that comes with the injuries.
"The patients with the biggest injuries had 80 to 90 percent of their bodies burned and most of those also had lung injury," says Dr. Yurt.
Half are still clinging to life. Dr. Yurt alone is performing 3 skin graft surgeries a day in the hopes of seeing someone else walk out the front door soon.
Mary Jos hopes to be next and describes her injuries.
"I have third degree burns on my back," she says. "I had shrapnel which took out part of this arm and shrapnel in the leg. I've had stitches in my head and in the bottom of my feet."
An employee of the state tax department, two years from retirement, Mary says she owes her future to the burn unit and to a stranger named Eric who helped her down 77 flights of stairs to waiting paramedics.
"I look forward to the future. I look forward to getting on with my life and living my life and I can't wait," she says tearfully.
Welcome dreams of tomorrows, from those so close to having none.
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