Dan Popiel is a 35 year-old loving, devoted father, spouse, son, brother and friend who suffered a life-changing accident on March 20, 2018. (He is my husband's nephew, but in reality he is more like a brother to both of us, someone we spend the majority of our weekends with on the lake, in the woods and around the campfire.) Dan has been an active outdoorsman his entire life, spending nearly all of his spare time camping, fishing, hunting, boating and enjoying life with his fiance and best friend, Ashley, as well as his family and friends. Everywhere Dan goes he has his two young children, Natalee and Nicholas, in his arms or attached to his hip. A highly productive individual, he is an extremely valued employee and a foreman with our company. Honest, hard-working and loyal, Dan is absolutely irreplaceable. He is smart, practical, independent and motivated, and he is admired, loved and respected by everyone around him. Dan has always, always been ready and willing at any given moment to help his family and friends ( and even strangers) no matter their needs or situations.
On March 20, 2018 Dan was performing his job duties as a mechanical insulator, installing pipe insulation on piping located approximately 20' above ground. Working out of a scissor lift with a platform, he extended to reach a section of pipe when he lost his balance and fell to the dirt and gravel floor below. Upon impact with the ground he suffered multiple broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken scapula, and burst fractures of his T9 and T10 vertebrae.
Diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.
Dan was immediately transported to UPMC Hamot and has undergone surgery to stabilize his spine. He will endure another surgery to repair his scapula before he is transferred to an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility in Pittsburgh on or around March 28.
Dan has suffered a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) below the vertebral fracture sites, effectively losing all feeling and movement below the middle of his abdomen. The neurosurgeon has indicated that his paralysis is permanent.
Upon transfer from the ICU in Hamot to the acute rehabilitation facility in Pittsburgh, he will endure an intense 4-6 week therapy program to prepare him for his return home.
Dan's life after SCI
Dan will have a team of physicians and therapists in Pittsburgh that he will be visiting frequently after his release from the rehab program. Additionally, Dan will continue outpatient rehabilitation closer to home.
It is Dan's goal that he will return to many, if not all, of his previous hobbies as well as work in the future. His family and friends have been working tirelessly since the accident to assemble a solid support system to help him reach his goals.
Dan will need renovations to his home. However, even with these changes, his current home will not be able to serve as his permanent home. There are an abundance of safety issues and there is no way to adequately expand the home to provide him the space he needs.
In addition to the impending struggles of trying to adjust to their new life, especially with two young children, Dan and Ashley will need a new ADA-designed and equipped home in the near future.
How can Dan's family and friends help?
Dan, Ashley and their family are grateful to the innumerable amount of people who have reached out to them asking how they can help. After much careful thought, assistance toward a safe and comfortable home has been determined to be the greatest need. Preliminarily, they have every intention to stay as close as possible to their immediate family. We are hoping that we can alleviate some of the burden that comes with such a major life change and help them with a home that fits their family's new needs.
There are no words to express how thankful we all are for your thoughtfulness, your compassion, your contributions and your willingness to support Dan, Ashley, Natalee and Nicholas.
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