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Father says Pa. soldier injured in Iraq to receive skin graft

December 12, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Sgt. Edward W. "Eddie" Shaffer, a Mont Alto soldier wounded in Iraq almost one month ago, will face a major skin graft Thursday, his father said.

Edward C. Shaffer said doctors will attempt to repair his son's burn wounds by grafting skin cells to his son's body. Eddie Shaffer sustained burns over 80 percent of his body in November when a roadside bomb exploded next to his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Ramadi, a Sunni stronghold about 70 miles west of Baghdad.

The soldier remains in critical condition at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam in San Antonio, where he has undergone more than 20 hours of surgery and lost both hands and one of his feet, his father said.

On Monday, Edward Shaffer said his son has shown some signs of improvement.

"Yesterday, he talked to the staff and asked for his mom," he said.

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Eddie Shaffer will soon see his mom, Brenda, who is home in Mont Alto, thanks to donated frequent flier miles. Edward Shaffer said the Army will fly him and his wife to Texas on Sunday with airline tickets purchased with donated miles.

"People can donate their miles to help all families going through things like this," he said.

Edward Shaffer said he and his wife will stay in Texas at the Fisher House for five weeks. According to Edward Shaffer, the Fisher House is free military housing temporarily provided for families of wounded soldiers.

While Edward Shaffer said doctors had his son standing today, he admits that he has a long road ahead.

"Anything can happen," he said. "He is still not out of it."

Edward Shaffer said anyone who wants to donate frequent flier miles can contact the Army for details.

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