Spotsylvania teen recovering well after run-in with Hogweed plant

Spotsylvania teen recovering well after run-in with Hogweed plant
Childress suffered third-degree burns from his encounter with the plant. Here is what his injuries looked like July 12 (Source: NBC12)
Childress suffered third-degree burns from his encounter with the plant. Here is what his injuries looked like July 12 (Source: NBC12)

SPOTSYLVANIA, VA (WWBT) - The Spotsylvania teen who suffered third-degree burns from the dangerous Giant Hogweed plant is recovering well!

Alex Childress, 17, had his first follow-up appointment Wednesday following his discharge from VCU Medical Center's Evans-Haynes Burn Center July 12.

"Alex is healing remarkably well," said Alex's father, Justin.

Over the last two weeks, Childress has been applying ointment to his burns, and bandaging them according to his doctor's instructions.

"We were working outside a factory and I snipped down a bush and it fell and touched my face," Childress said. "I didn't pay any mind to it because I do it all the time."

Originally Childress thought he had a bad sunburn but quickly realized it was something far worse.

"I got in the shower and my face started peeling," he said. "My mom said I had third degree burns on my face and arms."

Childress was taken to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, but was then transported to the burn center at VCU in order to get proper treatment for his burns.

"A lot of young people work these summer jobs, and if Alex had known what the plant was and the proper treatment this all could have been avoided," Justin said. "We are very proud Alex decided to get out and [talk about his situation. It seems to have brought a lot of awareness to this toxic plant."

While Childress focuses on his recovery, he's also keeping his future in mind; a future that involves an ROTC scholarship at Virginia Tech this fall.

"We are going to VT next week for orientation," Justin said. "Hopefully we will have an opportunity to meet with the administration to discuss the scholarship and moving forward."

Because of Childress's recovery time, being out in the sunlight could cause problems for his injuries.

"I know my skin will be sensitive to light for a few months," Childress said. "I'm hoping that scholarship will still be available for me."

Family and friends have set up a fundraising page for the teenager as he recovers from his injuries.

Giant Hogweed is classified as a Tier 1 noxious weed, which means the weed was previously unknown in the Commonwealth. Experts say the sap can cause severe skin and eye irritation, leading to painful blistering and possibly permanent scarring. It has a similar appearance to Queen Anne's lace, but its size sets it apart - it can grow up to 15 feet tall.

If you think you have seen Giant Hogweed, VDACS wants you to take photos of the plant and submit a report here. They want to ultimately eradicate the plant before it becomes established in the state.

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