We are excited to see army veteran and burn survivor-turned actor J.R. Martinez bravely putting a public face to the topic of burn treatment, via his starring role on Dancing with the Stars this season. The story of this skin recipient is a great source of hope for other burn survivors around the country struggling with the lasting scars of their injuries.
About J.R. via Dancing with the Stars: J.R. Martinez is an Iraq war veteran, motivational speaker and actor on ABC’s All My Children. In April 2003, at 19 years old, J.R. was serving as a Humvee driver for the U.S. Army in Iraq when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body.
J.R. was immediately evacuated and sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio where he spent 34 months in recovery. Since his injury, he has undergone 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery. While in recovery, he started speaking to other burn patients within the hospital, sharing his experiences and listening to theirs. News of his story and efforts to help others quickly spread, first on a local level and then to national circuits, leading to appearances on Oprah, 60 Minutes, CNN and more.
Bilingual in English and Spanish, J.R. has traveled the country since 2004, spreading his message of resilience and optimism. Today he is a sought-after motivational speaker and has shared the stage with many notable individuals. In October 2008, J.R. joined the cast of ABC’s Emmy® Award-winning daytime drama All My Children as combat veteran Brot Monroe.
Allograft skin transplants (skin from deceased tissue donors) are crucial to saving and healing burn victims, as they provide a temporary cover until the wound is ready to accept the patient’s own skin or until the patient’s limited donor sites are available for autografting.