A 12-year-old burn victim from Romania has found hope, and a new family, in the United States.
On a visit to the hospital’s recreation room, Marius tests his gaming skills with two new friends. He is as energetic and active as any other youngster.
But his story is dramatic. Marius was born in Romania and at the age of 9, lost both of his parents in a house fire. He suffered serious burns over 75 percent of his body.
He was visited in his Romanian hospital by two American volunteers, Jessica Free and Ashley Ludlow. The young women got their families involved and they enlisted the help of this American hospital, which provides treatment for children with orthopedic conditions and disfigurements.
Marius has had his big toes removed and grafted onto his hands to replace his fingers.
Plastic surgeon Katherine Au says Marius has maintained a positive outlook, despite his injuries. “He lost all of his fingers, essentially, burned his face, lost his entire nose, and if you talk to him now, he has the most girlfriends, he was class valedictorian, he does everything. Nothing stops him,” she said.
Marius faces many more surgeries. His American foster mother, Lynne Woodward, says he has endured the ordeal without complaint.
“He’s the most amazing kid you’ll ever meet. He inspires everybody wherever he goes. He makes friends so easily. He makes people feel comfortable. He’s got a really amazing set of social skills,” Woddward said. “He really does.”
Marius’ older brother, Ionut, who had been living in Italy, brought Marius to America as his legal guardian. Ionut would later marry the Woodward’s daughter, Ashley, one of the young women who had found Marius in the hospital. They are now the parents of a baby boy.
Marius’ foster father, Paul Woodward, anticipates a bright future for the boy. “It’s going to be nice to see what the future holds, and see him grow to be a man and get married and have children of his own, and hopefully give us many grandchildren and maybe some great grandchildren if we’re around long enough,” he said.
First, though, there will be a long road to full recovery. But Marius’ doctor and foster family say his positive attitude and buoyant spirit will help them all get through it.