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For Immediate Release:
February 17, 2016
Media Contact:
Tania Leets
tania.leets@jhsmiami.org
786-546-2581
Jennifer Smith
jennifer.smith@med.miami.edu
305-335-1072

JAMAICAN FIREFIGHTER TRAVELS TO MIAMI TO RECEIVE TREATMENT FOR SEVERE BURN INJURIES

A Jamaican firefighter horribly burned in the line of duty is getting a second chance at recovery because of the generosity of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the expertise of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Center at Ryder Trauma Center—the only certified burn center south of Orlando.

Last August, firefighter Tennyson "Mackie" McFarlane was responding to a routine house fire in Kingston, Jamaica when a propane tank exploded inside the structure. McFarlane suffered severe burns to his hands and face.
 
The 37-year-old firefighter underwent 12 surgeries over six months. Doctors in Kingston provided the best care available to them, but resources were limited. Clinicians lacked the specializations needed to treat burns, and to provide occupational therapy.

“I was told I was at risk of losing my fingers,” McFarlane recalls. “They also told me I could never go back to work.”

Fate took a turn for the better when a despondent McFarlane met retired Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Natosha Gonzales.

Gonzales often traveled to Jamaica and would meet other firefighters—but on this trip it was McFarlane, a husband and father, who immediately had an impact on her. Gonzales gave him hope that he could recover and helped restore his confidence that he’d one day return to the job he loved so much. That is when she spoke to him about Lieutenant Kevin McCrea—a burned firefighter himself.

“When I met Mackie, I immediately wanted him to receive advanced care to recover quickly in Miami,” Gonzales said.

The best place for him to receive burn care was at one of the leading burn treatment facilities in the nation. The UM/JM Burn Center, housed at Ryder Trauma Center, is a noted facility where teams of highly specialized UHealth—University of Miami Health System burn surgeons, nurses, and Jackson rehabilitation therapists could help him recover. 

McFarlane made the sacrifice to leave his home, wife, and 2-year-old daughter to seek treatment at the burn center with the help of the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Firefighters Union Local 1403. Gonzales also provided him a place to live and continues to raise money to assist with his medical expenses.

During the first three weeks of arrival, McFarlane has been receiving regular occupational therapy at the burn center with therapist Angel Alvarez. In such short time, the therapist noticed that the patient was making tremendous strides—especially in the ability to move his hands. 

“When he first got here, he couldn’t tie his shoes, he couldn’t feed himself or use the restroom on his own,” said Alvarez. “He still has a long way to go, but he is now doing all the above.”

Besides additional therapy and facial surgery, McFarlane still requires several surgical skin grafts to his hands to allow him more mobility, to be performed by UHealth, University of Miami Health System orthopedic surgeon Patrick Owens, MD.

“Doctors here at UM/Jackson have assured me that I will be able to go back to work,” said McFarlane. “I am looking forward to regaining the quality of life I had before.”

Who:

Tennyson McFarlane, patient
Patrick Owens, MD, UHealth orthopedic surgeon
Angel Alvarez, RN, occupational therapist
Natosha Gonzales, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue retired Captain

What:

UHealth surgeon, Jackson therapist, and representative from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to discuss McFarlane’s progress and upcoming surgeries.

When: February 18, 2016, 10:00 a.m.
Where:

UM/JM Burn Center 
Ryder Trauma Center, Room T-103
1800 NW 10th Ave
Miami, FL 33136

Editor's Note:

Media can park outside of Ryder and meet a representative from Jackson media outside of Ryder at 9:45 a.m.

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Jackson Health System
1611 N.W. 12th Avenue Miami, FL 33136