MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been 50 days of painful recovery and rehabilitation for celebrity chef Ralph Pagano.
He’s been at the Ryder Trauma and UM Jackson Memorial Burn Center after suffering life-threatening burns in an explosion at restaurant he was opening in Bimini.
“When he came to us, he sustained deep second- and third-degree burns to his face, to his upper and lower,” said Dr. Louis Pizano, a UHealth trauma surgeon. “When he came in he had severe pain from his deep burn wounds.”
Pagano was discharged Thursday. He was joined by his team of doctors and therapists to give thanks.
“I’d like to say, on so many levels, thank you to the doctors, to Angel my physical therapists, to everybody in the occupational room,” he said. “The support of my family, wife, my kids. Everybody here has made it so that I can check out today.”
Pagano has undergone four skins grafts for burns sustained mostly to his hands, arms, legs and face. He has also received intensive inpatient occupational and physical therapies to regain use of his hands and his ability to walk again.
Pagano currently has three restaurants in South Florida. He and his doctors are hopeful, but not 100 percent sure, when he’ll be back working in a kitchen.
“I will do my best to get back in shape. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll let you know,” he said.
It’s been an emotional road to recovery as well, but the upbeat Pagano has kept his humor even through the most difficult times.
“How was the food?” a reporter asked him.
“The food was good. I had it delivered from Naked Taco every day,” he said with a laugh.
Even though Pagano is leaving Thursday, he’ll be back at Ryder Trauma two to three times per week for physical and emotional therapy
As far as the restaurant where the accident happened, it will not open due to Pagano’s injuries.