Doctors say two LDS missionaries who were injured in the Brussels terrorist attacks arrived at the University of Utah Burn Center in good condition and are recovering.
Elders Joseph Empey and Mason Wells were released from missionary service and arrived back in the United States this week. A press conference was held at the burn center Thursday for doctors and families to discuss their conditions. This was the last time families have designated to speak with press as they focus on their sons' recovery.
Wells' father, Chad Wells, said he is grateful his son survived the attacks and is in good hands, but he asked for prayers for the other victims.
"Our thoughts are still with the Norby family and the Clains," he said. "We are fortunate that they survived, but we know not a lot were as fortunate."
Amber Empey said she is grateful for how well her son is doing, but with the excitement comes a lot of sadness.
"If there’s nothing else we can say, we really want you to know that there were a lot of parents and loved ones who did not receive a good phone call," she said.
When Joseph Empey told his parents how he was doing, he described his condition as "fair to awesome." Court Empey said the peace he felt seeing his son in Belgium was "the most peace I've had in this life."
Dr. Giavonni Lewis said Mason Wells has deep second-degree burns to his face and additional burns on his hands. Lewis said Joseph Empey is also recovering from second-degree burns, but Empey should not need surgery. An orthopedic doctor is looking at Empey's foot to determine the extent of the damage caused by shrapnel.
Lewis said Wells will likely require skin grafts and other surgical procedures in the future.
Lewis said she is grateful for the excellent care the two received while abroad.
"So I thank our Belgian colleagues for taking good care of them while they were there for the initial trauma," she said. "They are doing quite well and are in good spirits."
Dr. Stephen Morris said the next, critical step in recovery is a little space and a little time.
"We would hope that you would respect [time and space] for the families and the patients as they recover," he said. "This isn’t something that happens over days, weeks or even months. This may take … even a year or two."
Wells, who lives in Sandy, and Empey, a native of Santa Clara, sustained burns and other injuries from flying shrapnel during a bomb blast at the Brussels airport last week. The attack killed more than 30 people.
One other missionary from Utah was also injured: Elder Richard Norby, 66, of Lehi. He was placed in a medically-induced coma for several days and remains hospitalized in Brussels. According to the LDS Church, he will be transported to the United States for additional care of serious injuries and will soon be released from his missionary service.
LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins read a prepared release from the Norby family, which will be available on MormonNewsroom.org later Thursday.
"He is becoming more aware of his surroundings each day," Hawkins read. "He will remain in Belgium until his health allows him to come home."
Sister Fanny Clain, a 20-year-old native of France who was also injured in the blast, had received her U.S. visa and was at the Brussels airport to continue her LDS mission assignment in Ohio. She is expected to resume missionary service in the United States when she is healthy enough to do so.
"These missionaries and their loved ones have all been through a traumatic experience," said Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the LDS Church's Missionary Department. "They have each borne it with faith and fortitude. We are proud of all of them."
Wells said parents of missionaries and future missionaries should not be discouraged by terrorist attacks.
"To the parents of all the parents who have children, who are serving out in the world, take courage," he said. "There is so much good out in the world that outweighs the bad."