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Teenager who felt 'like a monster' after suffering 95% burns to his body finally embraces his disfigured body

October 11, 2018  14:46

A teenager who was left feeling like a 'monster' after a house fire covered 95 percent of his body in burns has finally learnt to love himself.

Johnny Quinn, now 18, was just four years old when his family's dog knocked over a candle in the back garden shed he was playing in.

He was only saved when his then 25-year-old sister Leah, who was babysitting Mr Quinn, pulled him out of the blaze.

Mr Quinn, from Millington, Tennessee, has since endured more than 80 reconstructive surgeries and even battled anorexia as he struggled to accept his appearance.

After convincing himself everyone was scared of him, Mr Quinn eventually learned to embrace his disfigured appearance as something that made him unique.

'Instead of looking in the mirror every day and seeing something I hated, I started seeing what I could enhance and what I could accept,' he said.

'When you're a burn survivor, you're just surviving but I like to call myself a "burn thriver" now because I'm actually thriving with my burns.'

'So many people stare at me, every single day, every time I'm in public. That used to really get to me,' Mr Quinn said.

'After my accident, it was so much worse even than the physical burns that I had been through.

'Now I try to look at everything with a different perspective.'

Speaking of the fire, Mr Quinn added: 'I was burned [on] 95 per cent of my body - my arms, my torso, my legs. Obviously my face.'

Leah, now 38, was babysitting her siblings when she heard her little brother's screams.

After several attempts to find him, she finally realised his cries were coming from the burning shed.

Leah said: 'That day brings back a lot of different memories, feelings that are difficult to deal with - stressful, panic, terrified.'

Growing up, Mr Quinn tortured himself over what happened.

'Why did I even survive? Why didn't I just die in the fire? I questioned that all the time,' he said.

'I didn't understand, until I was older, all of my troubles started when I was 10 and 11.

'I was becoming a teenager and appearance started to matter to me. I started to realise I really don't look normal. I really started to hate what I looked like.'
For a long time Mr Quinn felt like a 'monster' and his self-hatred eventually manifested as anorexia.

'I felt that I was genuinely a monster and I shouldn't have friends, because everyone was scared of me and I didn't deserve them,' he said.

'I kept all this turmoil inside of me for so long, it turned into anorexia. Where I didn't even want to take care of my body anymore, where I just stopped eating.

'I never realised how selfish I was acting, obviously I had a family that cared about me but I never realised it.'

But with time, Mr Quinn, who attends college, began to embrace his unique appearance.

'I realised that confidence is a habit, it's not a personality trait, it's something you have to work at,' he said.

Mr Quinn is working with the Courageous Faces Foundation and hopes to pursue a career in modeling.

The foundation was created to raise awareness of people with physical and mental differences, as well as to promote fair treatment and equal opportunity.

'Courageous Faces foundation makes my dreams and passions seem like they are a reality. Things I've always wanted, they make obtainable,' Mr Quinn said.

'A lot of people call [us] a burn victim and I was totally a burn victim too, somebody who let their situation have control over their life.

'I want to be the person who changes people's minds, that they can be comfortable in their own skin if I can be.'

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