By BETSY TAYLOR
MILWAUKEE — On the night of June 3, 2012, Cedric Jones lit a cigarette, unaware of a natural gas leak in his northwest Milwaukee home. "It was," he says, "a done deal after that." His house exploded. Jones suffered burns to 50 percent of his body including his face. He lost the fingers on his right hand.
Jones was an inpatient at Columbia St. Mary's Regional Burn Center for 144 days. Thirty-five percent of his burns were third degree — a classification for the most severe burn injuries that destroy every layer of skin and may damage blood vessels and nerves. Jones was in a medically induced coma the first months of his treatment. When he regained consciousness: "I just wanted them to let me go. God said that wasn't happening."
He knew what was coming. He'd been burned once before. Although that injury was severe, it was primarily to his arms. Still, his recovery had been so excruciating, Jones said he didn't think he had it in him to go through it again.