RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After more than 40 surgeries and nearly six months of fighting for her life at the VCU Health Evan-Haynes Burn Center, Charlie Xavier has finally been released from the hospital.
She was first admitted back in September 2021, after a tragic accident left her with third-degree burns on more than 85% of her body.
Charlie and her husband, André, were preparing to open Patch Brewing Co. with their business partner. The soft opening was set for Sept. 12. Just two days prior, Charlie, a mother of two, was finalizing a project to make the brewery more family-friendly.
“Charlie, that morning, got up early. She was very excited to go and finish a chalkboard for the kids area, and she wants to do the finishing touch,” André told 8News at the time. “She was sanding the wood frame, and last thing I know is she kind of lost her balance a little bit. She dropped the sander and then, there was a spark, and then, an explosion happened, and she was engulfed in flames.”
Although he was not there at the time, André said that his wife took a few steps, rolled, and was able to put out the fire herself. Moments later, Charlie called her husband.
“She told me she had been in an accident, she was burned. At first, I couldn’t believe the tales she was telling me,” he said. “I quickly realized that it was true.”
At the time, André was told that Charlie had a roughly 30% chance of surviving. But he found out Tuesday that the chances were even worse than originally realized — only a 3% chance of making it out of the hospital alive.
“Charlie’s survival is nothing short than a miracle,” André told 8News on Wednesday. “Just to think about, for a second, just give us even more gratitude that she is alive because it was an incredible injury that she overcame.”
Although Charlie is no longer in the burn unit, her recovery has only just begun. She was transferred Tuesday to Sheltering Arms Institute: Physical Rehabilitation Hospital in Goochland County, where her husband anticipated she will be for at least three weeks.
“We are very, very grateful that she made it. Her first chapter’s been closed. Now, on to the next of this lifelong journey to recovery,” André said. “In my opinion, this next chapter [will] probably be even more challenging to her because now, she’ll have to face real pain and overcome not only pain, but also her own frustrations because it will be hard. It’s very challenging in terms of mobility.”
André told 8News Wednesday that it’s too soon to say whether Charlie will be able to walk again. But at Sheltering Arms, she will also focusing on relearning basic skills, such as brushing her hair and moving her arms.
Although the family is grateful that Charlie has overcome the odds, André said the highlight of her discharge was the mother being able to hold her two children for the first time in nearly half a year.
“She got to hold her babies,” he said. “That, she hasn’t done since the day of the accident. So for almost six months, she did not see her children.”
But the reunion was short-lived, as her sons, 10 months and 5 years old, respectively, cannot go into the rehabilitation facility amid current COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
“She’s now a much more beautiful person, inside, because she truly was able to show her strength, her love for her family, and her desire to live in her faith,” André said. “When she did that, it truly made me love her even more than before. So that has changed. I think we’re much more in love now, as a family.”
André said that he and Charlie have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they have received over the course of nearly six months from the community, as well as the medical professionals who have assisted them along the way.