how do burn injuries kill years later?

From this story:

A DC man was doused with gasoline, set alight, and suffered burns over 90% of his body. And yet, he lived, for about three years, only passing away today.

Out of morbid curiosity - why would that happen? I mean, I’d think that if you survived the initial injury, and years of subsequent treatment, wouldn’t you be more-or-less out of the woods?

WAG - presumably his lungs were badly damaged by the smoke. Lung function is the sort of thing that can keep deteriorating for a long time after the original damage has been done, so perhaps he ultimately died of pulmonary issues?

Vascular problems are also there.

An unusual but well documented late complication from burns is cancer arising in the scar. Here’s a report of a case that happened almost half a century after the injury.

The fact that he was still in the hospital three years later suggests that he never really got “out of the woods”. From an article approximately one year after the incident it sounds like he was in pretty bad shape:

There are probably all sorts of complications he could have succumbed to that could ultimately be attributed to his initial burns.

Infection would be a strong possibility in his case, too.

I think if I was burned over 90% of my body, I’d hope to die in three hours, not three years. Man. That’s rough. I actually didn’t think it was possible to survive that amount of burns - would anyone care to comment on how he survived the three years?

Apparently he survived the three years in the hospital in serious condition.

I once read of a case of a man burned over (a claimed) 98% of his body who survived to walk out of the hospital. They had before and after pictures. Looking at them, I haven’t a clue where they took skin grafts from. I mentioned that once and someone suggested the bottoms of his feet. Um… no, those were burned, too. I’m skeptical it was an actual 98%, but it was easily 90%. So… yes, it’s possible to survive such a thing I guess, but lung damage will be a HUGE factor.

The man in the OP might have lost his hearing to strong antibiotics needed to fight infections, as burn patients are notoriously vulnerable to infections. It might have even been an infection that killed him.

Skin grafting such an extensive burn would be difficult at best - it would involved harvesting healthy skin, letting the donor and graft sites heal, and possible reharvesting the same spots multiple times. Such a thing would take months at best.

Severe trauma like that can also affect how well internal organs function, so something like diminished kidney function could also be a factor.

I got a bad 2nd degree burn once. It healed nicely, but damn the pain. Ever since I’ve always said I’d rather die than go through a serious burn injury. Of course thats easy to say without having to actually make such a choice. Point being, burns are ungodly painful and I certainly have sympathy for that poor man.

The classic, and saddest case of a severe burn victim who survived is David Rothenberg. His father took him to a motel room, gave him a sleeping pill, then poured kerosene on him, set him on fire, and drove away, leaving him to die. Bastard served seven years.

Here’s an articledescribing some of the things a couple of burn survivors have to deal with.

Wow. That was a supremely touching article. I teared up. I guess in this case anger leads to hate leads to a decrease in suffering.