We help and support burn survivors and their families through their recovery processes and medical stay here in the United States
Marina Bogdanova said doctors didn’t think she would survive the ordeal
after she suffered second and third-degree burns over 65% of her body – she has told her story to help others
A brave student says she is proud of her scars
after a tragic house fire at the age of two left her fighting for her life.about:blank
Marina Bogdanova, 19, said doctors didn’t think she would survive the ordeal
after she suffered second and third-degree burns over 65% of her body.
She has told her story to inspire other burn survivors and has launched a charity to help others
who have been through similar experiences.
Marina from Massachusetts, USA, was just a month away from her second birthday when tragedy struck.
On 2 October 2002, her mum Olga Belyajkova, 38, went to the grocery store (burn survivors)
and left her with her biological father at their home in Moscow, Russia, according to her mother’s recount.
When Olga arrived back home, she saw smoke emitting through the doors and windows of the house.
She rushed into the blaze to save two-year-old Marina and tried to keep her breathing before the ambulance arrived over 40 minutes later.
Marina was rushed to the hospital and spent two months in the ICU unit and doctors told her parents she had little to no chance of survival.
Marina’s mother, Olga, worked at the hospital, washing floors and bringing food to patients
so she could have a chance to see her daughter in the ICU.
Marina was later transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit for the next six months,
where her mum got a job as a nurse so she could spend more time with her daughter.
Speaking about the incident, Marina said: “My mum went to the grocery store, and left me home with my biological father.
We were both asleep. The real story is a bit fuzzy, but here’s what I know.
“There were no alarms in the house. When my mum came back from the store with her friend,
they saw smoke through the door and went in to get me out.
“The firefighters arrived at the scene first, as my mum was trying to keep me breathing.
“The ambulance took over 40 minutes to arrive, and when they did, they told my mum
I probably only had 1st and 2nd degree burns, so not to worry.
“They were wrong. I had rushed to the hospital and spent 2 months in the ICU with little to no chance for survival.
“There were no visiting hours for the ICU unit;
so, my mum became a ‘sanitarka-bufetchica’, an employee who washes floors and brings food to patients, just so she could see me.
“The true cause of the fire had never determined; the fire department had unsure if it had caused by the heater catching fire or electrical issues in the house.”
“At first, recovery was very difficult. I spent two months in the emergency ICU, with little chance for survival.
“Every day, my mum and grandmother had told ‘she’s still alive, but we weren’t sure she’ll make it to the morning’. But every day, I still made it.
“After the emergency ICU, I had transferred to the floor Intensive Care Unit, where I spent the next 6 months.
“There, my mum became a nurse, worked with me, and lay by my side when she could.
“She had told I would likely never be able to walk.
“I had put on one of two newest beds the hospital had at the time which had specifically designed to avoid putting pressure on wounds, like my burns.”
At three years old, Marina flew over to Shriners Burn Hospital for Children to undergo more surgeries
further treatment for her burn scars and infections.
In 2018, Marina and her mum launched a non-profit organisation called Fenix Family Fund,
which aims to help other burn survivors on their journey to recovery.
Fenix Family Fund helps bring burn survivors together to help each other with lodging,
connect them to therapy treatments and provide an avenue for emotional support to let them know they’re not alone.
Since launching the Fenix Family Fund, Marina and her mum have been helped conduct clothes drives
and clothing swaps, donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Shriners for pandemic relief,
provided medical staff with food, therapy, helped patients get access to equine therapy, provide shelter to foreign families who come here for treatment.
They have also helped the hospital with paperwork,
translations and entertainment, sending medical supplies such as skincare for burns to foreign patients who don’t have an access to them,
helping people get treatment at Shriners and helping hospitals in Russia.
Despite her struggles, Marina is confident in herself and her story and knows
there is more to her than her scars.
Marina believes her journey has made her stronger, independent and brave –
and her experience has shown her how a positive mindset can change everything.
She said: “I feel great. I know I’m strong, and I am mostly confident in my scars and story.
“I know there is more to me than just my scars, and I also know that when other people see my scars and cheerful disposition,
they see my strength and find that inspiring.
“Unlike most other burn survivors I have met, my situation didn’t exactly change my life,
since I grew up with scars and hospital visits, I have nothing to compare to. (burn survivors)
“However, if I was to guess how my life would have turned out if the fire never happened,
here’s what I think.
“As a result of the fire, both I and my mum have gotten stronger.
“Going through constant surgeries and having to readjust work and school conditions
so often has improved our adaptability and build me and especially my mom into strong,
independent, brave, and highly successful women.
“It has shown us that if we put our minds to something, we can accomplish anything.”