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Boy remains critical after suffering third-degree burns

STONE MOUNTAIN -- The 8-year-old Stone Mountain boy who sustained third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body last week remains in critical condition but is stable, a family member said Thursday.

On June 7, Alfred Zachary Real, a rising third-grader at Arcado Elementary, was playing with a friend in a wooded area near his home on Roe Hampton Lane.

The pair poured gasoline on a toy airplane then ignited it with a grill lighter, Gwinnett County fire spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

The accident caused a flash fire that left the friend unscathed but burned Real badly. After being rushed to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Real is now at the Shriner's Hospital in Cincinnati, his aunt said Thursday.

"He's had four surgeries, and they're currently waiting on approval from the FDA to grow his own skin," said Michelle Brethauer, the aunt. "He'll probably be there for another month or two months. It's still critical."

With his parents and 9-month-old brother with him in Cincinnati, Al's 12-year-old brother Graham is staying with his aunt and uncle.

They're trying to maintain some sort of normalcy.

"You know, he's a kid," Brethauer said. "While they know that it's serious, they don't really totally understand I don't think. It's hard for me to understand."

"We're struggling with it," she added. "It's been a week now and we're kind of getting our sea legs."

Benefits are already being set up to help the Real family.

Arcado Elementary will host an "Ade for Al" event from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. this afternoon at the Lilburn Farmer's Market, selling lemonade to go to his foundation.

A benefit is also lined up for July 10 at Moon Shadow Tavern in Tucker.

Additional events are tentatively scheduled for Moon Shadow Tavern in July and Atlanta's Variety Playhouse in August.

Donations can also be made through Al's websites at www.caringbridge.org and www.faretheewellfoundation.org.

Just after his eighth birthday in May, a horrific accident has young Al Real in critical condition and in need of help.

"I've tried not to know too much about the specific details," Brethauer said, "but they were just being curious boys."