Friday, May 2, 2008

Merlin's Miracles

The survival of Merlin after receiving more than 95 percent burns was a miracle in itself, but his reaching out to assist burnt children and their families speaks of true valor of this US Marine. Rising above his own pain and suffering to help others speaks of true courage and the real miracle.

Sgt.Merlin German a US Marine who survived being burned over more than 95 percent of his body in Iraq and established a charity to help burned children has died, the military has announced.

Sgt.Merlin German was severely wounded February 21, 2005, en route to Camp Ramadi when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb. That fateful day Sergeant Merlin's squad was on a mission to recon an unknown route from Jordan to Baghdad. While en route to Camp Ramadi, Sergeant Merlin German spotted an IED while standing in the turret at his Mk-19 machine gun. With no time to alert the driver, their HUMVEE was hit on a left side by a gas-fed shape charge explosive. Merlin was blown clear of the vehicle, and his fellow Marines helped extinguish the flames that had quickly burned 97% of his total body surface area.

Merlin was not expected to survive, but he was transported to Germany and then to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, which has the U.S. military's top burns unit.

Merlin spent nine months in intensive care and underwent more than 100 operations."There was consensus Merlin was going to be a someone who would probably break some of the previous expectations about survivability. If someone was going to survive, he was going to be that individual."

Merlin German moved out of the hospital into his own home after 17 months of treatment.

He founded Merlin's Miracles, a charity that aims "to assist burned children and their families to take vacations, trips, outings or anything the families needed to make life a little easier," according to its Web site.

Merlin died April 11 at Brooke Army Medical Center of complications after surgery.

"He beat all odds and then on top of that continued to serve as an inspiration and motivator for others," said Dr. Evan Renz, a critical-care surgeon who treated German.

"It is very difficult to describe the sense of loss. He endeared himself to all he came in contact with. It's really impossible to describe, except to say: Imagine the loss of dear family or friend."

Renz remembers being impressed with German from the start.

"This young man was clearly showing us signs he was going to fight through this from the very first minute," he said.

He touched the lives of everyone he met. He taught us strength, courage and unity. He loved children and was very proud uncle to his one year old niece.

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