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Connor's close to coming home

CHARLOTTE -- Four months ago, doctors gave Connor McKemey little chance of surviving.

But within six weeks, the Tega Cay teenager who suffered burns over most of his body could be at home eating his mother's roasted chicken and mashed potatoes.

Connor's family received the news last week at the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, where the 14-year-old has been staying since April 7.

"It's amazing," Connor's mother, Karin, said of his progress. "He's just bound and determined."

Connor was flown to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., on Dec. 21 after an outdoor fireplace erupted at his parents' home. He suffered third-degree burns on his face and has endured dozens of surgeries since the accident.

On April 7, the same group of Fort Mill rescue workers who picked him up after the fire brought him to Charlotte from Augusta. Connor thanked his rescuers and even remembered one of them from the night of the accident.

They briefly drove by Tega Cay so he could get a glimpse of home.

Leaving Augusta was difficult, Karin McKemey said. After so many months, the nurses and doctors became family faces.

A surgeon cried when Connor left.

"They said he's been the best that they've seen," his mother said.

As for Connor's future, his mother said he seems confident that he'll be able to play the sports he loves. Initially, doctors said Connor's days on the lacrosse and football fields were over. Severe burns damage sweat glands and doctors doubted his body would be able to regulate temperature through perspiration.

But one day doctors took off a plastic mask Connor was wearing and his face was dripping. Connor told his mom he plans to play lacrosse next spring, though he concedes he won't be ready for freshman football.

"He just has a real positive attitude," she said.

During a counseling session at Levine, a counselor asked Connor about

his feelings right after the accident.

"Yeah, I was really upset in the beginning. I actually was angry," he told her. "I kind of said, 'Why did this have to happen to me?' But you can't live your life like that."