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Greeley man injured in Weld County oil battery explosion first in CO to try revolutionary treatment

Man first in Colorado to try ReCell therapy
Posted at 10:06 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 12:02:32-05

JOHNSTOWN, Colo. -- Two months ago, Dillon Dreher was nearly killed in an oil battery explosion in Weld County. He spent several weeks in a coma, with burns over more than half his body.

Now, he's the first person in Colorado to undergo a new procedure for burn victims called "ReCell."

Doctors at North Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital have been stunned by his recovery .

"I've just wanted to get home, that's been my goal since the beginning, " said the 23-year-old Dreher.

In October, he was working as a laborer for Element Services in Greeley, but that all stopped after an oil battery explosion near Briggsdale left him with burns over 65 percent of his body.

"I remember taking off the bolts, then walking and them saying 'Flight for Life is on the way,'" said Dreher.

He spoke to Denver7 from the hospital, his speech accented by air from his tracheotomy.

After five weeks in a coma, Dreher woke up. Dr. Lyndsay Deeter from North Colorado Medical Center selected him as the first person in Colorado to undergo a revolutionary treatment for burn victims.

It's called ReCell, a spray on skin graft using live cells from the burn patient.

"We're spraying the cells from his own skin that we've taken and separated out. We're able to take those cells out and spray them back on him. That provides a really great matrix and allows for a lot of healing," said Deeter.

The procedure allows a much greater area of coverage. Special gloves and a compression shirt help keep the grafts in place. Nine surgeries later and Dreher has a new lease on life.

"I feel good. A lot better than I did in the beginning, especially being able to move and talk. That's a big one," he said.

Doctors say Dreher's recovery has been miraculous. He's just been told he can go home on Christmas Eve to spend a few days with his 3-year-old daughter, Lilly, and his now fiancé, Derae Caro.

"I honestly didn't think I'd be home for Christmas at all, " said Dreher. "It worked out. I'm pretty happy for that."

Now after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, Dreher is facing the future with hope and gratitude.

Dreher said he has at least a year of therapy left, but doctors say because of his ReCell treatment, he'll be going home a lot sooner.

The Weld County Sheriff's Office investigated the explosion and determined Dreher had been using old equipment at the time. He and Derae have set their wedding date for July 28.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.