Texas governor Greg Abbott to have skin grafts, will miss Dallas police funerals

In this Friday, July 8, 2016 file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, responds to questions about the police shootings during a news conference at City Hall in Dallas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

DALLAS – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will spend Monday night in the hospital and miss President Barack Obama’s visit to Dallas in the wake of the deadly shooting as he recovers from extensive burns on his legs and feet caused by scalding hot water.

Abbott’s office announced he had developed a “minor infection” after sustaining second- and third-degree burns on both legs below the knee and both feet on Thursday, while vacationing with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Republican will remain at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and, on Tuesday, will undergo skin grafts to repair damage to his feet.

Afterward, he’s “expected to be discharged and will return to Austin,” his office said in a statement, adding, “As a result of today’s news, and regretfully, Governor Abbott will not be able to attend tomorrow’s memorial service.” Abbott’s wife, Cecilia, will attend in his place.

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Obama cut short a visit to Spain and will be in Dallas to deliver remarks at a memorial service. He also is expected to meet with families of the officers killed.

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Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch has said the governor scalded himself with hot water, but has declined to provide further details. The governor uses a wheelchair after a tree fell on him while he was out for a jog in 1984, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

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Despite that, Hirsh says that Abbott has felt pain as nerve receptors in his legs and feet react to the shock of being burned.

Abbott is chairman of the Texas delegation to next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, but his office says he may not be well enough to attend. Monday’s statement said that “further decisions on Governor Abbott’s schedule continue to be day-to-day.”

Abbott endorsed the Republican presidential bid of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but now says he will back Donald Trump.

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Abbott was treated for several hours last week at a Wyoming medical centre. As he was being released, a top aide called from Texas to say a gunman had opened fire in downtown Dallas – an attack that killed five police officers.

Abbott’s injury wasn’t reported until late Sunday.

Abbott returned to Texas against what his staff said were doctor’s orders not to travel. He held a news conference in Dallas on Friday, but didn’t disclose being burned. Hirsch said that his legs were wrapped at the time, but that wasn’t evident since they were covered by his pants.

The only hint anything was wrong, Hirsch said, was that the governor was wearing orthopedic shoes rather than the dress shoes or boots he usually dons in public.

The governor’s communications team had been working on a statement detailing the burning Thursday, but abandoned it because of the shooting. Instead, Abbott released statements about the attack late Thursday night and early Friday morning, as well as an open letter to Texans, urging unity in the face of tragedy.

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