Post courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk
JOE & CARRIE
Location: Lakeville, MA
Date Of Injury: February 2003
A man who suffered devastating burns to much of his body after surviving the deadly 2003 Station nightclub fire has shared his joy at the birth of his baby daughter.
Joe Kinan suffered third- and fourth-degree burns and lost his hands, ears and the sight in his left eye in the blaze in West Warwick, Rhode Island, which killed 100 people and injured more than 200.
Despite suffering the most extensive injuries of any of the survivors, Kinan, now 45, has fought through 128 surgeries and is now the proud father of a six-month-old girl.
He welcomed baby Hadley in April with his fiancee Carrie Pratt, a fellow burns survivor whom he met at a World Burn Congress conference in Vancouver in 2007.
‘Carrie has brought everything to my life,’ he told People magazine. ‘I feel happy, nervous, fulfilled… I’m just determined to be the best dad I can be.’
Baby Hadley is Kinan’s second child. He also had a 24-year-old daughter, Kate Sullivan, from a relationship before the life-changing blaze.
‘I love making her smile,’ he said of Hadley. ‘She’s brought me so much joy.’
It’s a life far from the emotional and physical pain he suffered in the aftermath of the Station nightclub fire, the fourth deadliest club fire in U.S. history.
Kinan was 34 when he went to the West Warwick club on February 20, 2003 with a girlfriend to see a show by the band Great White, who used pyrotechnics in their set. Within seconds of the show starting, curtains caught fire and, within just five minutes, the entire building had been burned down.
A hundred people died and more than 200 were injured as concert-goers desperately tried to escape. Some, like Kinan’s friend Karla Bagtaz, suffocated among the crowd.
‘It was just this wave of people falling on top of each other,’ Kinan recalled, People reported. ‘All I saw was black smoke… I was in terrible pain until my skin burned off. Then I had no feeling.’
After suffering burns to 40 per cent of his body and nearly losing his scalp, he spent a year in hospital undergoing skin grafts. He lost his fingers, toes and his left eye.
When he left the hospital, he covered every mirror in his home and refused to go out. But after two years of suffering in seclusion, he decided to look at himself in the mirror.
‘These scars couldn’t be hidden,’ he said. ‘I had to accept it, or it was going to eat me up.’
He met Pratt, who was badly burned by bad coffee on her chest and neck as a toddler, at the World Burn Congress in Vancouver in 2007. As soon as she met Kinan, she liked him, she said.
‘His appearance was no big deal,’ she said. ‘He had a great outlook. I liked his personality.’
The two became friends but slowly their relationship developed to something more.
‘I felt safe,’ she said. ‘He wanted to take care of me. Joe is my rock.’
The couple, who live in Lakeville, Massachusetts, became engaged two years ago, on the anniversary of their first meeting.
Three days later, he went into surgery to receive a hand transplant – so he can now feel his baby daughter’s soft hair, he said.
To donate to Mr Kinan and help burn victims attend the World Burn Congress where he met his fiancee, visit his website.