New Castle News

October 27, 2012

Photos, Story: After near-fatal accident 25 years ago, burn victim Anthony Razzano celebrates life

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Scary stuff is supposed to occur on Halloween.

But what happened to Anthony Razzano 25 years ago on Oct. 31 is beyond frightening.

A horrific accident, in which he was burned, nearly claimed his life at age 12.

A happy-go-lucky life as a seventh-grader changed in a split second.

Doctors said he wouldn’t survive.

But Razzano, now, 37, lived.

Every year on that date, he reflects on what happened to him and counts his blessings. As he observes the quarter-century mark of survival, there is much to celebrate and he will always be grateful to the people who helped save his life.

Among his blessings are his wife, Katie; and children, Julia, 10, and Anthony Jr., 10 months. Today the Neshannock Township resident owns Razzano Consulting LLC and enjoys telling others how a tragic event was turned into a message of hope.



A LIFE FOREVER CHANGED

Reliving that day — Oct. 31, 1987 — is something Razzano does frequently.

He and a friend were in the garage at his mother’s house. He was scheduled to play an important Pop Warner League game.

“We were doing something we shouldn’t have been doing,” Razzano said candidly. “We were sniffing gasoline.”

A match was then lit, causing a fireball.

“The garage didn’t catch on fire, but I did.”

Neighbors quickly responded to extinguish the fire.

Razzano was treated by paramedics from Noga Ambulance and taken first to Jameson Hospital’s emergency room where he was treated by Dr. Reynaldo Carolipio. Razzano credits Carolipio and the staff there for prompt action in initializing treatment.

But his injuries were so severe that he was flown by helicopter to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. There, doctors gave Razzano little hope. He had sustained third degree burns over more than 87 percent of his body.

Doctors told his parents that he would probably die overnight but that if not, he would probably die within three days and if he lived for three days, he would die in three weeks of infections.

Last rites were administered three times, and his parents were told by physicians more than once to make funeral arrangements.

Two weeks after he was burned, the fingers on Razzano’s left hand were amputated because gangrene had set in.

At one point, his temperature spiked to 106 degrees and his blood pressure was 49 over 20.

An all-night vigil of family members and friends including his father, Eugene Razzano, and mother, Janet Pratt, was held, and the next morning, his fever broke, his heart rate stabilized and blood pressure rose.

“It was such a spiritual moment,” Razzano acknowledged.

However, he was unaware of any of this until much later because of being in an induced coma.

He was hospitalized from Oct. 31 to Jan. 14, 1988. Nine months of rehabilitation followed and, according to Razzano, physical therapy resumed for years.

In two years, he underwent 43 surgeries and 134 blood transfusions.

Through it all, he was determined and resolute.

A few years after the incident, Razzano was starting outside linebacker for the New Castle Red Hurricanes.

And as a result of his bravery, he was the first Salute to Courage recipient, which at that time was presented by the now-defunct St. Francis Hospital.



IT’S ABOUT CELEBRATING

Today, Razzano lives a full and happy life.

“Anthony wants to celebrate,” Katie said. “He is happy to be alive and very proud that he made it through.”

Although Halloween is a tough day for her and her husband, Katie wants it to be fun for their children.

“He’s a great example for me and the kids,” she noted. “I can say to them to look at what your father got through — he lost all five fingers on his left hand and still golfs.”

The word “no” is not an option.

“I don’t let anything hold me back and tell others the same thing,” Razzano said. “I am fortunate, blessed and thankful for all the prayers through the years.”

He admits to living with limitations but does everything in his power to tackle them.

Most people, by looking at Razzano, aren’t aware that he lives every single day in pain.

“I don’t focus on it.”

This very special Oct. 31 will be observed by a family dinner to celebrate making it through a difficult tragedy together.

“This is almost like a birthday,” Razzano pointed out. “I feel like I had a miracle take place.”

He noted, that as a 12-year-old boy, his goal was to be normal. Following the accident, he had to do what he could to resume a normal life.

“In life, you have to adapt to circumstances. We’re all faced with tragic circumstances and each one of us bears scars — some are internal and some you can see.”

Razzano said from a tragedy, he has learned many lessons.

Most of all, he wants to be an example to others that obstacles and adversity can be overcome.

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)