Jay Leno burned himself rather badly last weekend while wrenching on his 1907 White Steamer. The comedian and host of “Jay Leno’s Garage” was fiddling with a clogged fuel line under the car when he was sprayed with fuel. Incredibly, a spark ignited the fuel at that moment, dousing Leno in flames. A mechanic pulled him out and quelled the flames quickly, but Leno was still left with second- and third-degree burns on his face, chest, and hands. He’s being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at the West Hills Hospital by medical director Dr. Peter Grossman. The doctor provided an update Wednesday on the 72-year-old star’s condition. As recapped by the LA Times, the good news is that Grossman expects Leno to make a full recovery. The difficult news for Leno is that Grossman said “burn injuries are progressive and dynamic … And it’s hard to predict, ultimately, what the final outcome will be at this stage of the game.” Which is to say that life will go on but there could be scars.
Leno’s undergone one surgery already to remove damaged tissue and graft a temporary “biological skin substitute.” Since then, he’s been in hyperbaric oxygen therapy to encourage blood flow to the affected areas and keep the second-degree burns from becoming third-degree burns. The patient told the LA Times he figured he’d need “a week or two” for recuperation despite acknowledging serious injury, but he’s got at least one more surgery ahead, and he’ll need to slow down for a bit even if all goes well. Grossman said he hasn’t found any nerve damage, but the facial burns are “a little bit deeper and a little more concerning.”
Meanwhile, Leno’s being Leno, making jokes and giving cookies to children in the medical center. There’s no telling yet when he’ll be released, Grossman saying, “I had to tell him that he needs to step back a little bit and just realize that some of this takes time. He’s very compliant, he understands that. I think he’s realizing that he does need to perhaps take it a little slower than he initially anticipated.”
For anyone wondering how Leno endured gas burns with a steam car, the White uses gasoline to heat the water in the boilers to make the steam that runs the engine.