LOGAN — Last summer, Bridger Walker made headlines when he stepped in between his younger sister and a charging dog, receiving a bite to the face in the process. The unselfish act earned the then 6-year-old Wyoming boy the title of hero.
As his story spread around the world, it brought hope and love to countless people during a time when the world needed just that.
Recently, KSL.com was able to connect with Bridger's family for an update on how he is doing all these months later. Thanks to the selfless acts of others, Bridger's father, Robert Walker, says his son is doing better than expected.
"Not long after Bridger's story went viral, a dermatologist out of New York named Dhaval Bhanusali reached out to us after hearing about the story from his niece and nephew," Walker said. "Dr. Bhanusali expressed that he wanted to provide treatments to help Bridger's scar heal. He flew us out to New York, and it was a wonderful experience that we are grateful for."
After the trip to New York for Bridger's first treatment, the Walkers realized that it was too much to make the trip out to New York for each treatment. They thanked Bhanusali for his help while expressing their desire to seek treatment closer to home. It was then, when Bhanusali reached out to dermatologist Cory Maughan, of Logan, to see if he might be able to help Bridger continue his treatments.
"Dr. Bhanusali called me and said, 'I have this boy who saved his sister from a dog bite. I've done his first treatment, would you do the follow-up?'" Maughn recalled. "I told him that I would be happy to do it."
Bridger would be receiving laser treatments to reduce scarring, which would improve both functionality and appearance.
"Because of the location of the scar on Bridger's face, the skin doesn't stretch very well and has gotten in the way of him eating and speaking," Walker said. "It is also a very noticeable scar, and the treatments will help reduce the appearance."
"Through this process, we have learned so much about new treatments and the importance of getting treatments early on rather than waiting," he continued. "I hope that in sharing our story, that we can help educate others who might encounter similar situations with large scars."
Walker also spoke about times when people have pointed at Bridger, saying, "It's that boy!" Others will stare. And while Walker says it can be a positive thing, he expressed a desire for his son to be able to form his own identity aside from his scar. Maughan agreed.
"In my line of work, I have a lot of patients who have experienced noticeable scaring," Maughan said. "Many will say, 'Your scar is your battle wound.' Saying these types of things is a way of being nice or being sympathetic to the situation, but it's not their face. Bridger will always have a scar, but this way people will see him first and not his scar."
Maughn said he's known Bridger was special since the first time they met.
"When I first met Bridger, he brought me some rocks from his rock collection as a gift," Maughan recalled. "He is very soft-spoken, timid and very thoughtful and kind. I brought my son, who is his same age, to help Bridger feel more comfortable, and it was neat to see them interact. Bridger is a very special boy. I wish there were more people in the world like him."
To date, Bridger has completed all of his laser treatments, with only the occasional checkup as time goes on.