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Plastic surgeon Dr Raed Farhat (right), his assistant and burn victim Maria Marissa at Burjeel Specialty Hospital Sharjah. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sharjah resident Maria Marissa has walked through fire and lived to tell the tale — literally!

A fortnight ago, the 35-year-old Filipina walked out of Burjeel Specialty Hospital Sharjah, more than 50 days after suffering serious burn injuries all over her body. There were emotional scenes at Burjeel Hospital as Marissa got her discharge slip and readied to return home after a long, difficult road to recovery. The hospital staff marked the joyous occasion by handing her a bouquet and posing with her for pictures.

Yehya Salah Kayed, the hospital’s director operations, plastic surgeon Dr Raed Farhat and the burn and rehab teams worked together for weeks to make the celebration possible.

Marissa and her husband Raymund Lacbayu were severely burnt in an early-morning blaze that engulfed their ninth-floor apartment on Al Wahda Road, Sharjah, on February 4.

‘Waking up’ to a blaze

“We woke up to flames devouring our belongings,” Marissa said in an interview with Gulf News. “It was a terrifying sight. Our entire apartment was on fire. I watched helplessly as the flames raced up my bed, licking at my arms and legs and scorching by back and abdomen.”

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Staff members at Burjeel Hospital Sharjah with burn survivor Maria Marissa as she was about to be discharged from the hospital. Image Credit: Supplied

Marissa said she could feel her flesh blistering as she stumbled out of her bed, walked through the fire and scampered down the stairs, a half-burnt piece of cloth still stuck to the skin of her badly-charred right leg. “I have no recollection of what happened next. I must have blacked out,” she said.

Unknown to Marissa, her husband remained trapped in the balcony until noon when he was rescued by firemen. He also suffered second-degree burn injuries.

“Since elective surgeries at that time had been suspended as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus, Marissa faced a hard time finding a hospital,” said Kayed.

‘Removing damaged tissues’

“Marissa had second and third-degree burns, some of which had penetrated deep into the layers of her skin and fat in her lower extremity, back and abdomen,” recalled Dr Farhat. “This meant we had to remove damaged tissues before beginning the process of covering the wounds with temporary skin and then grafting skin from other parts of the body that were not burnt,”

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Marissa underwent five surgeries, but she fought hard against the odds. “It was quite a challenge to maintain her fluid and electrolyte balance as she had lost almost 40 per cent of her skin. In such cases, even the slightest imbalance can prove fatal,” said Dr Farhat.

Marissa is recovering fast, but it will still be some time before she resumes her job at a mall in Sharjah. “That day is not too far away. I never give up hope,” she said.