A woman who defied doctors to survive a gas explosion and a subsequent four-month-long coma as a child is now a 25-year-old mother of two who claims ‘I always feel beautiful.’
Nahobi Perez of Boston was just five-years-old in September 1997 when her home was engulfed in an incredible gas explosion caused by a motorbike brought into the home out of a snowstorm to be repaired.
The petrol from the bike mixed with a gas leak in the kitchen, combined with cigarette smoke, caused the massive explosion, seeing the home go up in flames.
Proud mom: Nahobi Perez, 25, of Boston, survived a devastating gas explosion in her home as a child, with doctors telling her family that she wouldn’t live through the night
Throwback: Nahobi’s mother was in the home when the explosion happened, jumping out a window with one of her children in her arms
Nahobi’s mother was pregnant at the time and jumped out of the window with her one-year-old daughter in her hand. Nahobi was still in the burning house with her younger brother waiting for someone to come to their rescue.
After realizing her children were still in the building, and despite having fractured her ankle, her mother broke down the door to save her children.
After being rushed to the hospital, Nahobi fell into a coma for four months but survived and now has two daughters, Anaya and Avery.
‘My loved ones were devastated when the doctors said I would not make it past seven o’clock that night, so to have us alive makes them extremely happy,’ she said.
‘I had to have multiple surgeries to give me a more “normal” look and to make life a bit easier for me, I guess.
Close call: When the mother realized that her children were still inside, she ran into the blaze to rescue them
Growing up: Nahobi was rushed to the hospital and had fell into a coma, but woke up four months later
‘I used to sleep with my eyes open, so I had surgery for that and my fingers are frozen in the position I was hugging my brother.
‘I’ve had over twenty operations, mostly skin grafters, with the longest duration in the hospital being a week. Shriners Children’s Hospital for Burns was really my second home; I was there so often that I knew most of the nurses.
‘I loved being there because of how nicely they treated me and with so much love. I had two to three surgeries every year from when I was five to when I was eleven years old.’
Despite having many skin grafts; on her nose, eyes, mouth, breasts, fingers with strangers staring at her in shock, Nahobi never let the incident lower her confidence.
‘It’s part of my life, so I don’t hate it. I no longer feel the stares, I would say and if I meet eyes with someone who is staring at me, I just smile and introduce myself; I’ve made a lot of friends this way,’ she said.
Moving forward: She had to have multiple surgeries and skin grafts, but never let the accident affect her confidence
Hitting the pool: She claims that when she sees people staring, she introduces herself, adding ‘I’ve made a lot of friends this way’
‘I was so young that I didn’t realize what had happened. I received therapy to make sure I was okay emotionally and the therapist wrote me off the first day.
‘I was always very independent and even at the age of five, I didn’t want any help with anything; I requested for my doctor to make me a special spoon so that I could feed myself.
‘I didn’t let anyone baby me or feel bad for me. I don’t know how, but my self-esteem was never shattered, and I never felt “different” or “ugly”, I always feel beautiful.’
However, although she had been able to overcome the visible effects of the accident, Nahobi suffered other setbacks because of the accident.
‘While I was great emotionally and mentally, I was in and out of the hospital; I was born with asthma and the smoke inhalation made my lungs and health worse,’ she said.
Bit of fun: She claims that ‘I never felt “different” or “ugly”, I always feel beautiful’
Onwards and upwards: Nahobi considers herself one of ‘the lucky ones’ and credits her mother for helping her become the confident woman she is
‘My left lung doesn’t function at full capacity and I would frequently contract pneumonia and have many asthma attacks.
‘People ask me all the time how I have such a good self-esteem; I really don’t know. I thank God for keeping me alive and that gratefulness keeps me going.
‘My mum also gave me so much love and my family in general, so I didn’t feel ‘different’.
‘She didn’t allow me to feel bad for myself because she never pitied me; she treated me just like my sisters who weren’t burnt.
‘My mother is the reason I am who I am, and I thank her so much for it. Seeing her continue with her life even after losing her partner and possessions in the fire gave me hope.
‘So many people die in fires, so I feel like the lucky ones who survive, should live their lives to the fullest and be grateful for every second of it. Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life.’