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Apr 15, 2015

Damari’s Amazing Road to Recovery

Damari Tesucun

Nine-year-old Katerin Michel Perez has been at the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Boston for one week, following a freak accident which left her severely burned over more than half of her body. While she is not yet out of danger, every day increases her chances of survival. Katerin’s journey through this challenging time is just starting, and her life will be changed forever – just as the life of nineteen-year-old Damari Tesucun has been changed. Damari was badly burned in a terrible electrical accident in 2010, and she is alive today only through the grace of God and the skilled surgeons at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Mike Rudon spent a day with this truly remarkable survivor and has the story.  Some of the images are very graphic, so you may want to exercise parental discretion at this point.

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Mike Rudon, Reporting

Nineteen year old Damari Tesucun is normal in every way. She lives with her family in San Jose, just outside Orange Walk. She does chores, hangs out with family and friends, and sings in the church where her parents are pastors. She wakes up early every weekday morning to catch the bus to Corozal Junior College. She had two tests this morning, and is heading out to the nearby snack shop with her friends to relax before afternoon classes.

 

Almost five years ago, on August sixth, 2010, Damari and her aunt were electrocuted when the antenna they were adjusting got caught in a high tension wire.

Damari Tesucun, Burn Victim

“What I felt was something very…that was going in my body but then I felt stiff. I couldn’t move. I felt like all of my parts of my body were going to rip off…was going to come into pieces. That’s how I felt it at that moment.  I went unconscious. I really can’t say for how long. I don’t know for how long. I woke up eventually after some time I woke up and I realized the commotion that was going on. I saw everyone there trying to help.”

 

Her aunt, her mother’s only sister, died immediately. Damari, then only fourteen, received burns to over forty percent of her body, the worst on her lower body and legs. She would have died, were it not for the intervention of the Burn Victim Mercy Fund, an organization which facilitates the transfer of badly burned children to Shriner’s Hospitals around the world.

 

Yvette Burks

Yvette Burks, Burn Victim Mercy Fund

“You have the more serious cases, the ones that are third degree, second degree, extensive areas of the body and those children will either be at risk of dying, or certain having a diminished quality of life, and those are the ones that I will become involved with.”

 

Damari was immediately flown out by air ambulance to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas…a journey which would save her life!

 

Damari Tesucun

“I went into surgery every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That was the routine. They were trying to remove the infection I had. Here in Belize they had amputated my leg right here, right above my knee, but the infection had been going up and the doctors had said it is dangerous because I can eventually die, so what they kept doing is that they kept scraping the dead skin that I had until they decided that there was no more infection there.”

 

She was in the intensive care unit for one month and four days…what seemed to her an eternity of excruciating pain as surgeons fought the infection raging through her body, while grafting skin to cover badly burned areas.

 

Damari Tesucun

“I had dead skin all over, especially on this wound I had. So the nurses had to put a tweezer in those holes to take off that dead skin. And every time they put that metal inside the wound that I had, I felt electrocuted. I still, somehow, still felt it. It was the electricity still in me. And every metal that touched me I felt like it was an electrocution all over again.”

 

The five weeks in the intensive care saved her life. It was followed by three months of therapy…of learning to walk again and to use muscles which had been badly damaged.

 

Damari Tesucun

“Although I had those big wounds on my leg, my hand, every part of me, I still had to do therapy. I had to stand up. They had this fake prosthetic they put on me, on this left leg, and I had to stand on that and it was very painful because I had that open wound. And although I wasn’t being electrocuted, I could feel the electricity striking me over and over again.  I felt that when I put my prosthetic, the part that had been removed was going backwards, and I felt I had to try and control the prosthetic and also I had to control the other feeling I had. So it was painful, and it was something that I had to control mentally. So for me that would be the most difficult part.”

 

Excruciating pain and challenges which would have broken many – yes. But Damari’s story isn’t one of tragedy, despair or loss. It is, in fact, a story of strength, courage, hope and faith.

 

Damari Tesucun

“Seeing my family going through this pain made me realize how important life is, and how important being in a family is, and the role of a mother and a father that takes place. I wanted to somehow take away that pain from them and just carry it myself but it was difficult because it’s my mother. She has to feel the pain I am going through. I wasn’t able to do anything than just pray for them…pray to God to just give us this peace, that tranquillity that we need for that moment.”

 

Five years later, Damari is stronger than ever and her family is closer than ever – bound by unbreakable ties of shared experiences and an appreciation of life. This amazing young woman with the big, bright, beautiful smile turned overwhelming adversity into perhaps the greatest lesson of all.

 

Damari Tesucun

“From now on I need to appreciate life more, I need to appreciate more what God has given me, because life is a gift. Life is something that we cannot pay…we cannot say that I’m going to give you a million dollars and you’re going have one day of life. It’s not like that.”

 

Rosalinda Tesucun

Rosalinda Tesucun, Mother of Damari

“What kept me strong was the faith I have and the hope of seeing her get back again, and her…she made me strong. No matter how, she was the one that made me strong. She would always say Mommy God is in control and He has a purpose…and I said I believe it, I believe it. She is always talking positive and I said if she can be strong, I can be strong as well.”

 

Damari Tesucun

“See…I’m able to walk again. I’m able to do everything again. So that’s something I learned. You can do everything. What the Bible also says is that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. So never say you can’t. You can. That’s what I’ve learnt through all of this time.”

 

Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

Even now, five years later, Damari still has to make regular visits to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. She will continue to do so until she is twenty-one.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Damari’s Amazing Road to Recovery”

  1. Gloria says:

    This is such an amazing story. It bought tears to my eyes. Channel Five should do more of these human interest pieces.
    I did not even mind missing my Radisson Cooking Show for this.

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