After a 264-day hospital stay, burn victim makes emotional return home

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After 15 surgeries, several skin grafts and the loss of two fingers, She Yan Chen left Regions Hospital this past week to end a 264 day stay.

The Pioneer Press reports that Chen was given a surprise goodbye party by a group of 50 doctors, nurses and other employees on Thursday, ahead of his discharge Friday from the St. Paul burns unit he had been in since October 12.

The 61-year-old from Oak Park Heights was given just a 20 percent chance of survival after suffering second and third-degree burns to more than 70 percent of his body when a can of gasoline burst into flames as he filled his lawnmower.

Sherry Schaefer, a nurse at the hospital's rehab center, said Chen is a "miracle."

And his recovery was indeed miraculous.

Family 'had planned his funeral'

WCCO notes that Chen's family had feared the worst after one of his 15 surgeries left him in a coma for several weeks in January, and he was put on life support.

His family had planned his funeral, and were planning to visit the hospital to say their goodbyes after they were told he wouldn't wake up.

But he defied expectations once again. He began to move just two days before his family were due to say their goodbyes, and eventually woke from his coma, starting him on a road to recovery that has required several months of physical therapy.

His stay in Regions was one of the longest in the hospital's history and Chen, who emigrated to the United States from China in 1993, was full of gratitude to his doctors and nurses, according to the Associated Press.

Unfortunately, the loss of both his pinkie fingers and the burn injuries all over his body means he won't be able to return to work as a chef at the Mr. Chow Chinese Restaurant in Stillwater, but for now he's mainly focused on regaining his mobility.

"Everybody is so helpful and so concerned and cares," he said, through an interpreter. "I feel so glad, so happy to see so many people. (But) I'm looking forward to going home. I miss my children."

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