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Gimli teen has emergency surgery on burns

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A Gimli family hit hard by fire has received gifts of furniture and clothes – but said their biggest focus is the healing of an 18-year-old man who went inside a burning home to search for his sister.

Widower Greg Welch, 41, and his son Jordan Welch, 18, were recovering at the Health Sciences Centre after they were injured at a New Year’s Day house fire at their Gimli home.

Greg Welch’s brother-in-law Ian Tarnowski said Jordan was having emergency surgery on his burns midday Thursday.

Jordan had burns to 65 per cent of his body, and was in a medically induced coma, said Tarnowski.

He had gone into the burning home to rescue his 12-year-old sister Jayda after thinking she was stuck inside, even though she’d escaped with her father out a back window.

"Our main focus is Jordan, right now, it’s just him," said Tarnowski.

The children lost their mother to cancer three years ago, and their grandfather months later after a fatal heart attack.

Greg Welch suffered a broken neck, said Tarnowski, but the injury didn’t sever his spinal cord and he has full mobility.

He was in stable condition Thursday, said Tarnowski.

"He still has full use of all his extremities," he said.

Jayda Welch was scratched and bruised in the fire, and was due to see a doctor Thursday.

She was at home with family, and marked her 12th birthday Wednesday.

"I believe she’s still in a little bit of shock from what’s happened," said Tarnowski.

Tarnowski said the family has received extensive furniture and clothing donations.

"It’s been unbelievable," he said.

Two trust funds have been set up for the family at the Gimli Credit Union, as well as at CIBCs across Canada.

"They’ve lost everything," said Tarnowski. "They have nothing. They didn’t even have the keys for their vehicles."

It’s unclear if the family is insured, said Tarnowski.

"I haven’t been able to talk to Greg because he had an air tube down his throat," said Tarnowski.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

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