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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Jay Leno undergoes surgery for ‘significant’ burns from car fire

Jay Leno sustained second- and possibly third-degree burns to his face, hands and chest after a car he was working on caught on fire, his doctor said.

By McKenna Oxenden

Jay Leno, the comedian and television host, underwent surgery this week and will need a second procedure in the coming days after he sustained “significant” burns while working on a car over the weekend, his doctor said Wednesday.

Dr. Peter H. Grossman, medical director at Grossman Burn Centers in West Hills, California, said Leno sustained burns to his face, hands and chest. He described them as “deep second-degree burns, with possibly third-degree burns.” The deepest burns were on Leno’s face, the doctor added.

The doctor said that he expected Leno to make a full recovery but that it might take “slightly longer” than what the comedian initially anticipated because of the severity. After the fire, Leno said in a statement that he would “just need a week or two” to get back on his feet.

“He’s Jay Leno,” Grossman said at a news conference recorded by FOX 11 Los Angeles. “He’s walking around and cracking jokes. He’s incredibly kind to our nursing staff; he’s very compliant and very appreciative of everyone here and really an ideal patient and one who understands the seriousness of his injury.”

Leno, who is also known for his expansive car collection, was working underneath one of his vehicles in Burbank, California, when a fire began, his doctor said. He said. Leno was pulled out from underneath the car and taken to a hospital in Burbank, where he received emergency care and was eventually transferred to Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center.

Leno kept cars in his collection in a garage in Burbank with a full tank of gas, current registration and valid insurance documents, so he could choose any one of them for a drive, according to a 2011 blog post in The New York Times. The combination of the chemicals from the gas and the fire probably made the burns that Leno suffered worse, his doctor said.

The first surgery that Leno underwent was to excise and debride damaged tissue and place temporary skin grafts to the burned areas, Grossman said. He will have a second surgery later this week to remove the skin grafts and evaluate what the next steps will be in the recovery process.

“Our hope is that when everything is all said and done he will do well,” the doctor said, “but burn injuries are progressive and dynamic, and it’s hard to predict ultimately what the final outcome will be at this stage in the game.”

As part of his treatment, Leno is also receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves breathing pure oxygen to promote healing and decrease swelling from inside his tissues. A hyperbaric chamber creates an environment where there is 100% oxygen kept under high pressure for the patient to breathe.

Best known as a longtime host of “The Tonight Show,” Leno is now the host of a show called “Jay Leno’s Garage,” which recently featured President Joe Biden discussing the future of electric vehicles. He is also the host of a syndicated reboot of the classic comedy game show “You Bet Your Life.”

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