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Burn surgeon starts family business with a message of safety

A local burn surgeon sees the irony in his family-run business "Doc's Firewood." But his weekend hobby includes an important safety message for his customers.

MAPLE GROVE, Minn — When burn surgeon Dr. Jon Gayken is asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, his answer may surprise you.

“It was born out of that family experience before I dedicated my life to becoming a doctor and working with burn patients. I always kind of thought I would be a forest ranger,” said Dr. Gayken.

His love of working in the great outdoors was put on the back burner after Dr. Gayken developed a blood disorder at just 17 years old.

“I ended up going through all of the skin grafting, the surgeries, and the rehabilitation and compression garments and all of the things my patients go through and it sort of gave me a focus,” said Dr. Gayken.

Dr. Gayken was treated like a burn survivor and was a patient in the very same burn unit at HCMC where he works today.

His focus shifted to becoming a doctor, but when he's not busy scrubbing in to help burn survivors, he can be found in the woods at his "other" job.

What started as a side hustle selling firewood at his cabin up North turned into a family business and "Doc's Firewood" was born.

“This was a way to marry what was my earlier aspirations, goals and plans of being outside, being in nature with basically what I am doing today,” said Dr. Gayken.

Although Dr. Gayken understands the irony of selling firewood and being a burn surgeon, he's using this opportunity as a safety advocate to teach customers how to properly manage campfires.

He also gives a portion of the proceeds to nonprofits like Firefighters for Healing, which helps burn survivors and their families.

“I wasn't necessarily starting Doc’s Firewood to just make money,” said Dr. Gayken. “It was more of an experience I was after, so I felt like centering it around giving back seemed like the right way to do it and with my relationship with Firefighter’s for Healing and the Burn Center it seemed to come back full circle.”

We all love a good bonfire so Dr. Gayken wanted to share these safety reminders:

  • If you are using anything other than paper to start your fire, you're doing it wrong! DO NOT use accelerants like gas or motor oil to start up your fire.
  • ALWAYS attend your fire. DO NOT leave it and DO NOT leave children unsupervised.
  • ALWAYS make sure you fully extinguish your fire. Dr. Gayken said some of the biggest burns he sees are from young children who are playing near a firepit the day after a bonfire when the ashes and coals are still hot.

RELATED: Will a sauna help prevent firefighter cancer? A study in St. Paul aims to find out

RELATED: Minneapolis firefighter climbing Mount Everest to raise $10,000 for burn survivors

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