'One Determined Human': Mom of 4 Who Suffered Severe Burns From Bonfire on Vacation Prepares for Skin Grafts

Tami Chmielewski, of Gilbert, Ariz., remains in serious condition in a burn unit of a Minnesota hospital

Tami Chmielewski/Facebook . https://www.facebook.com/boslyndi/photos.
Tami Chmielewski. Photo: Tami Chmielewski/Facebook

A single mom of four will receive skin grafts Thursday after suffering third-degree burns over 30 percent of her body from a bonfire while on vacation, her family said.

Tami Chmielewski has experienced hands guiding her care: a specialist who underwent the same procedure himself.

"Her doctor on the case this week is able to relate firsthand to skin grafting," Chmielewski's daughter, Brooklyn Hardwick, wrote on a GoFundMe page seeking donations for her mother's treatment. "Skin grafts visibly cover both of his arms. He said to this day he still remembers how the pain can be and is well-versed on how to maintain good pain control and comfort."

Chmielewski, of Gilbert, Ariz., who has three adult children and one minor child, was vacationing in Minnesota for a friend's wedding when the burn incident occurred Aug. 28, according to her family. The exact details of what happened have not been released.

She remains in the Hennepin County Medical Center burn unit in Minneapolis, Minn., where her condition is listed as serious, a hospital spokesman tells PEOPLE.

On Tuesday, "two days out from donor graft day," her daughter wrote on GoFundMe: "Mom has been comfortable and stable the last few days. She stood on her own with PT on [Sunday] (YAY!), this doesn't surprise me though she is one determined human. She won't let this hurdle stop her from being the ambitious human she is."

Hardwick described her mother's delicate condition, writing that Chmielewski "was put under conscious sedation [on Tuesday] to have her dressings removed and the medical professionals looked over her cadaver graft sites to re-evaluate plan of care."

"They took a few cultures in procedure last Thursday to monitor for infection and proper antibiotics to treat with," Hardwick wrote. "Given the results doctors decided to start some antibiotics today. Everything looks on track for donor grafting still on Thursday ... . They will be implementing long-acting pain medication as well as short-acting to ensure good pain control."

Tami Chmielewski/Facebook . https://www.facebook.com/boslyndi/photos.
Tami Chmielewski. Tami Chmielewski/Facebook

The family previously revealed to AZFamily.com-3TV that most of Chmielewski's burns were on her legs and feet. But in a separate GoFundMe update, Hardwick shared a note from her aunt, who wrote: "The burns on her face just get better and better everyday. They remain optimistic that 100% positive no scarring on face."

Chmielewski underwent her first surgical graft last Thursday, according to Hardwick.

"Burns were much more extensive than anticipated," she wrote. "In general entire both legs [affected]. Legs are dressed and [she] has drains coming out of dressing that are flushed every 4 hours. ... Will be using her entire back for skin grafting."

Hardwick quoted her aunt as saying: "I almost feel like the love flowing from all the caring people is sparking a new light in her. I share donation amounts and comments and she is just so grateful."

Doctors have told the family that Chmielewski will need to undergo at least six months of physical therapy to recover. The fundraising effort, which so far has raised more than $82,000 toward a $90,000 goal, is focused for now on the cost of a medical flight to return Chmielewski to Arizona, which the family said would not be covered by insurance "due to it being a lateral transfer."

"One day at a time and [we are] constantly reminding her to extend herself GRACE," Hardwick wrote. "Long road ahead, but I think she's up for the challenge. We will be alongside her and continue looking forward."

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