Steven Weersing was so badly injured in the deadly EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin back in May that you could see his lungs, liver and beating heart through his open chest wound. But now, after three months at Children's Mercy Hospital, the teen is finally going back home.
Weersing was in a car with friends when the tornado sent them spinning into another vehicle, throwing him out of the vehicle and leaving him with broken bones, a head injury and a gruesome, gaping chest wound that left his vital organs exposed.
"There were a lot of times I didn't think I was gonna have my son," said father David Weersing.
Doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital had to remove tissue from Weersing's chest that was being eaten away by a fungus, zygomycosis - the same fungal infection from dirt that has killed several other tornado victims.
"He had fungus in his lungs that had literally started to eat into his lung, but despite that his body was trying to heal that," said Dr. Kimberly Gandy of Children's Mercy Hospital, who says that Weersing had only a five to ten percent chance of survival. "We're honestly just all blown away."
Steven Weersing still has several surgeries ahead of him to reconstruct his chest. He still has a lot of physical therapy ahead, but he has started walking again.
David Weersing says he recalls having only one way to identify his son after the tornado because his body was so badly bloated.
"I said let me see his right arm," said David Weersing. There, his son had a tattoo of his last name - ironically, Steven Weersing got the tattoo against his dad's wishes.
"But I'm glad he got it," said David Weersing.
Steven Weersing says that the incident showed him the importance of family.
"I didn't think they were that important, but now I realize that's my life," he said.