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MIRACLE: After surviving severe burns, man walks out of Peak Resources Shelby Rehab Center

by: Gina Esposito Updated: 

SHELBY, N.C. – Some say it’s a miracle that Donald Heffner survived a horrible accident. On Friday, he will finally leave a rehabilitation center in Shelby and head home.

On Dec. 17, Donald Heffner was cooking in his kitchen when hot oil spilled on his body. It burned 80 percent of his body.

Doctors told his brother, Randy Heffner, that Donald’s life would never be the same again. Even when Donald Heffner was getting better with treatment, his brother Randy got bad news.

“On Jan. 2, I received a phone call that my brother Donny’s heart had stopped. About five minutes later, I got another call that said, we got a pulse back,” Randy said.

Doctors at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem did CPR on Donald Heffner for 45 minutes. He was then in a coma for weeks. His family wasn’t sure he would make it.

“Honestly, there was lots of discussion about compatible care, about what kind of life he was going to live,” Randy said.

At one point, the family was asked if they wanted to take Donald off life support, but they held on.

“Donny couldn’t feed himself, but they made sure he ate every meal,” Randy said.

Donald walked out of the Peak Resource at Shelby, and is ready to start his life again.

The rehab staff admitted they didn’t think Friday, would come, and think it’s a miracle that Donald is able to go home.

Kevin Borrelli is a physical therapist Peak Resources at Shelby. He helped Donald walk again.

“I didn’t give up on us trying to do everything we could to make it happen,” Borrelli said.

Katie St. Thomas was a social worker that worked with Heffner: “Their family faith in him reminded me why we are here, and we do this,” she said.

Randy said he’s going to have a lot of fun with his brother at home.

  • Randy Heffner: “We are going to eat dogs, sit by the pool, right?”
  • Donald Heffner: “Sure.”
  • Randy Heffner: “We are going to have a good time.”

Heffner will seek additional rehab in the future, but will be able to be home. His family hopes that he will be able to live by himself one day.

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