Man who survived propane tank explosion reunites with staff at OC burn center who saved his life

"You didn't give up on me," said a tearful Michael Zimmer to the doctors and staff at UCI Health Regional Burn Center in Orange.
ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly half a year after surviving a propane tank explosion, a UCI Health Regional Burn Center patient returned to thank the staff who saved his life.

During the emotional reunion Wednesday, Michael Zimmer relived the day that changed his life.

"All of a sudden, I just seen this raging flame come at me," Zimmer recalled.

The blast last November blew Zimmer out of his van and led to more than two months in a burn unit where he was wrapped in bandages and his eyelids were covered in blisters. Zimmer moved to Arizona to recover with his family.

He lost his voice from catching up with friends during his visit back to California.

The burn survivor said he was grateful to his loved ones and staff at the burn center for helping him fight on.

"You didn't give up on me," a tearful Zimmer said to Dr. Theresa Chin as he hugged her.

"You pushed through too," Chin replied.

After two surgeries, beating pneumonia, learning to walk and talk again, working out five days a week and physical therapy, Zimmer is thriving and is even golfing.

"I'm actually able to golf a little bit," Zimmer updated Chin, adding, "Don't ever go out and hit a hundred balls at the driving range. I did that. I was sore for four days."

Zimmer even got the chance to bodysurf before his visit. Chin said she was just a piece of the puzzle, crediting her patient's progress to team effort.

As the only burn center in Orange County verified by the American Burn Association, a lot of severe burn victims are treated there.

"We see them at the worst, and so seeing them and what it can end up as, and how he's doing really great, getting back into life, reintegrating, and that's something that we really focus on in the burn world is really getting back into society," Chin said.

Zimmer wasn't taking his second chance for granted.

"My future is yet to come, you know? I'm not giving up," he said.

Doctors said Wednesday they expect Zimmer to make a full recovery.

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