Taiwan fire victim from NH improvesBy CASSIDY SWANSON
Union Leader Correspondent
July 21. 2015 10:25PM
MONT VERNON — After initially being given a 10 percent chance of survival by doctors, a Mont Vernon man who survived an explosion in Taiwan is beginning the long road to recovery.
“His attitude is better than any of us could ever expect,” said Melanie Tamposi, Alex Haas’ cousin. “We’re all very lucky.”
Haas, 26, was among nearly 500 people injured last month at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan. The cause remains under investigation, but authorities are reportedly investigating the possibility that colored cornstarch powder ignited.
Haas, who had moved to Taiwan to teach English, sustained second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body and is undergoing treatment at a Taipei hospital. Tamposi, of Wells, Maine, said doctors have grafted skin from Haas’ upper thigh, buttocks and scalp to cover his burns, as well as a mesh skin replacement.
Tamposi said she has been in contact with her aunt, uncle and cousins who are in Taiwan with Haas, and they report that he’s “recovering at a remarkable rate.”
“When my family arrived [in Taiwan] ... they said that they didn’t know if he was going to survive the night,” she said. “We didn’t really know what to do. We were just praying ... that he was able to make it through, somehow. There’s only so much that you can do or that doctors can do for these kind of things.”
Haas cannot be transported back to the United States in his current condition, but Tamposi said her family reports he is getting excellent care in Taiwan. He was able to have his tracheal tube removed relatively early and has been talking and writing notes.
“Alex, he’s unbelievable,” Tamposi said of her cousin’s determination to heal. “He’s just remained so positive ... and that’s the kind of mentality that you need to have to get through this kind of thing successfully. It’s not going to be a lazy person who gets through this kind of thing. It’s a person like Alex, who has that mentality of, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to get through it, I’m going to be successful and go home. If I have to push myself, I’m going to do it.’”
Doctors have warned the Haas family that the road to recovery for Alex will be long, both physically and mentally. Fortunately, his face was not injured enough to require reconstructive surgery, she said, and the skin on his chest should regrow naturally.
“The best thing that we can do is continue to maintain positivity,” Tamposi said.
Tamposi started a GoFundMe page to help pay for Haas’ medical bills and travel expenses for the family. As of Tuesday, the page had raised $94,366 of its $200,000 goal.
Also helping with fundraising is the Chili’s restaurant on Amherst Street in Nashua, Haas’ former employer. The restaurant donated 10 percent of its proceeds one night earlier in the month to Haas, and is hosting a car wash on Saturday to raise more money.
Lizzie Burgess of Amherst, an employee at Chili’s, is helping to organize the car wash. Burgess didn’t work for the restaurant until after Haas left.
“Seeing how close to home it was for everyone here at Chili’s, I was like, ‘You know, we have to do something.’”
Burgess said Haas was loved by his coworkers for his positive, friendly nature.
“He’s such a kind-hearted soul,” she said. “Why does this have to happen to such a good person?”
The car wash to benefit Haas and his family will be held in the Chili’s parking lot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at 610 Amherst St., Nashua. To donate online, visit http://www.gofundme.com/y2qpd5s.