NISSWA -- Camron Glassmann is a typical 2-year-old. He loves playing with his train set and can dance up a storm to his favorite music in his Nisswa living room.
But unlike most 2-year-olds, Camron has endured painful surgeries and skin grafts since suffering severe burns in a campfire accident during his first family camping trip to Itasca State Park July 14.
Camron and his parents, Chris and Michelle Glassmann, had planned to spend one night camping at the state park. They made a small camp fire and cooked hot dogs -- Camron's favorite meal. Just before turning in for the night around 9:30 p.m., Michelle gave Camron a flashlight. The little boy loved dancing with the flashlight, twirling around as he watched the light dance around in the darkness with him.
Camron became dizzy from twirling, and though he hadn't been near the campfire, he suddenly spun backward and fell into the hot embers, burning his back, shoulders and head, said his mom. The little boy turned and put his hand into the fire to try to lift himself out and burned his hands and face.
"It just happened so quick," said Michelle Glassmann.
The couple rushed Camron into their car and called 911 on a cell phone. A First Responder met them at the park's south entrance and Camron was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Park Rapids then airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. While Camron's burns were severe, it could have been even worse. Luckily, his fire-resistant pajamas didn't melt into his skin.
Still, Camron suffered third-degree burns on his back, shoulder and head with deep second-degree burns on his hands and face. The Glassmanns couldn't travel with Camron in the helicopter to Minneapolis and had to return to their camp site, pack up their equipment and gear and drive to the Twin Cities.
"It was the worst ride ever," said Glassmann. "Not knowing if he's OK or not."
If you go
-- A party will run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Jenkins VFW in celebration of 2-year-old Camron Glassman's recovery from a campfire accident that left him with deep second- and third-degree burns.
-- A hot dog lunch -- Camron's favorite -- will be offered and a silent auction will be held to help Camron's parents, Chris and Michelle Glassman, with his ongoing medical expenses.
Seventeen percent of Camron's body was badly burned. Doctors inserted a breathing tube into his throat. A few days later he got very ill. Camron developed pneumonia and both of his lungs collapsed. It was a traumatic ordeal for his parents, who felt helpless as they watched their only child battle with these life-threatening injuries.
On July 23, the Glassmanns were able to hold their son for the first time. A few days later, Camron's voice returned, after his throat healed from having the breathing tube.
"We really missed his voice," said his mom with a smile.
Camron spent nearly two weeks in the hospital during his first hospital stay but his recovery is far from over. The toddler has endured at least eight surgeries and skin grafts and countless hospital stays since his accident. His parents have to take him back to HCMC up to two times a week for skin grafts and dressing changes, along with other medical procedures. Doctors are harvesting healthy skin from his scalp and thighs and grafting those skin patches onto his burned areas in hope that it will take and grow. Last Thursday doctors had to replace skin grafts on Camron's burned ear because the previous surgery didn't work. At one point they thought he may lose his ear, but fortunately he hasn't. His ear will likely require reconstruction surgery someday and right now Camron can't straighten one of his fingers because of his injuries.
Since Chris is a stay-at-home dad, he is often traveling to Minneapolis with Camron for his doctor appointments. Michelle is the director of the Pine River DAC and travels to Camron's appointments as often as she can.
The Glassmanns said Camron will soon be fitted with a clear plastic mask he will need to wear for one to two years, depending on how his skin heals. He'll have to have a new mask made for him every week. This will attempt to reduce scarring on his face and head. Right now Camron has dressings on his head and portions of his face which protect his skin. However, this can become quite itchy; mom and dad often have to take turns scratching their son's head.
Portions of Camron's sandy brown hair won't grow back because of his burns but doctors are trying to minimize this damage by transplanting hair from other parts of his scalp.
The couple said Camron knows that fire caused his "owies." Camron has tolerated the situation "amazingly well," said Michelle Glassmann.
Camron remains energetic and is a happy child, despite his injuries.
"We have him and that's what counts," said Michelle Glassmann.
The Glassmanns said Saturday's benefit at the Jenkins VFW is a way for them to celebrate Camron's recovery and give him his own happy day in light of his accident. Some of Camron's favorite dance music will be played and a hot dog lunch -- Camron's favorite meal -- will be served. A silent auction also is planned to raise money to help offset Camron's medical expenses and the family's many trips to Minneapolis for his doctor appointments.
Michelle's parents have traveled to Nisswa from England this week to spend time with Camron and attend the benefit. They haven't seen their grandson since he was a baby.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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