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Man reveals he was given 1% chance to live after covering his body in flammable liquid as a toddler

A man who was left covered in scars after surviving a terrifying explosion as a toddler is now sharing the importance of self-love on TikTok, having racked up 230,000 fans.

Joshua Reyes, 32, from Weslaco, Texas, was aged just two when the horrific accident happened in August 1991, during a trip to Mexico with his mother Martha, and his evangelist father, Eddie.

The family were walking outside one day during their visit when Joshua grabbed a bottle of liquid that he thought was water and poured its contents on his neck to cool down in the sweltering heat. 

However, suddenly, his body started to feel even hotter and he realised something was wrong. He had unknowingly poured a flammable liquid on himself. 

He threw the bottle across the room, which landed on a water heater and burst into flames before Joshua’s father Eddie grabbed his family and quickly ran away from the explosion. 

Sadly, Martha later died in hospital while Joshua suffered third-degree burns on 95 per cent of his body – and was told he only had one per cent chance of survival.

Joshua Reyes (pictured), 32, from Weslaco, Texas, was aged just two when the horrific accident happened in August 1991, during a trip to Mexico with his mother Martha, and his evangelist father, Eddie

The family were walking outside one day during their visit when Joshua (pictured shortly before the accident) grabbed a bottle of liquid that he thought was water and poured its contents on his neck to cool down in the sweltering heat

The family were walking outside one day during their visit when Joshua (pictured shortly before the accident) grabbed a bottle of liquid that he thought was water and poured its contents on his neck to cool down in the sweltering heat

Joshua does not remember how he got a hold of the liquid or where he got it from. 

Following the explosion, Joshua and Martha were both seriously injured and were transported to a hospital in Galveston, Texas. Sadly, Joshua’s mother died in hospital due to complications.

Joshua suffered third-degree burns on 95 per cent of his body including his face, torso, arms, legs and back – with doctors giving him just a one per cent chance of survival.

‘My dad heroically saved both me and my mother, who had also tried to save me as well,’ Joshua recalled. ‘My burns were so severe 95 per cent of my body was covered in third-degree burns.

However, suddenly, his body started to feel even hotter and he realised something was wrong

Joshua (pictured) had unknowingly poured a flammable liquid on himself

However, suddenly, his body started to feel even hotter and he realised something was wrong. Joshua (pictured) had unknowingly poured a flammable liquid on himself

He threw the bottle across the room, which landed on a water heater and burst into flames before Joshua's father Eddie grabbed his family and quickly ran away from the explosion. Pictured, Joshua at six years old with father Eddie Reyes

He threw the bottle across the room, which landed on a water heater and burst into flames before Joshua’s father Eddie grabbed his family and quickly ran away from the explosion. Pictured, Joshua at six years old with father Eddie Reyes

‘The doctor said he had never seen anything like that, and that it was the maximum he had ever seen anybody get burned.’

Incredibly, Joshua managed to beat the odds and survived the ordeal – but the recovery process was excruciating.

The survivor recalled being bathed in a medical bath at a hospital to disinfect his body in an incredibly painful ordeal.

‘The recovery was pretty brutal,’ Joshua explained. ‘I remember how difficult it was to take my first step to walk, it was difficult to shower.

‘They would give you these bed pools where they would treat skin wounds to take out dirt to disinfect your body, and it was the most painful thing you could ever feel. It was water with medicine in it, so it burns.

Sadly, Martha later died in hospital while Joshua (pictured) suffered third-degree burns on 95 per cent of his body - and was told he only had one per cent chance of survival

Sadly, Martha later died in hospital while Joshua (pictured) suffered third-degree burns on 95 per cent of his body – and was told he only had one per cent chance of survival

‘Afterwards they would take you out and scrape you with a narrow-looking ice cream scooper from hell, to get all the debridement out so you can heal properly.’

Joshua spent a year and a half in the hospital recovering from his injuries and has since undergone 90 surgeries including skin grafts and operations to increase his mobility.

He underwent a spinal surgery at 20-years-old, and that was the last operation he had, considering he is now at peace with his appearance and is not interested in cosmetic surgery.

He added ‘I’m happy with how I look – I’m happy with how everything is going for me, at least. I’m content in how I look. If there is any scar tissue that I can get removed to feel more comfortable, then yes I’m all for that.’

Joshua (pictured) spent a year and a half in the hospital recovering from his injuries and has since undergone 90 surgeries including skin grafts and operations to increase his mobility

He underwent a spinal surgery at 20-years-old, and that was the last operation he had, considering he is now at peace with his appearance and is not interested in cosmetic surgery

Joshua (pictured) spent a year and a half in the hospital recovering from his injuries and has since undergone 90 surgeries including skin grafts and operations to increase his mobility

Now, Joshua (pictured as a toddler) is using his TikTok page to spread happiness and positivity – urging people to love themselves inside and out

Now, Joshua (pictured as a toddler) is using his TikTok page to spread happiness and positivity – urging people to love themselves inside and out

Now, he is using his TikTok page to spread happiness and positivity – urging people to love themselves inside and out.

He has amassed over 230,000 followers on the app, where he posts funny reactions to viral videos, and also teaches people lessons in self-acceptance.

‘Self-acceptance is one of the most important things that we need to understand about ourselves,’ Joshua said. ‘True self-love is accepting who you are and what you look like.

‘And it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, as long as you accept and love yourself for who you are. For example, I know exactly what I look like. I tell people jokingly that I know I look like a burnt tater tot.

‘But I love myself because I accept myself for who I am and what I look like, and because of that I deem myself beautiful and handsome. 

‘I’m not in any kind of delusion. Self-acceptance is one of the most beautiful things that you can do.’ 

BURNS – WHAT ARE THEY, AND HOW DO YOU TREAT THEM?

Burns are damage to the skin caused by dry heat, such as an iron or a fire.

This is different to scalds, which occur due to wet heat like hot water or steam.

Burns can be very painful and may cause:

  • Red or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

But the amount of pain a person feels is not always related to how serious the burn is.

Even a very serious burn can be painless.

To treat a burn:

  • Remove the heat source
  • Cool with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes. Do not use ice
  • Remove any nearby clothing or jewellery unless it is stuck to the skin
  • Keep the person warm with a blanket
  • Cover the burn with clingfilm
  • Use painkillers like paracetamol if necessary
  • If the face or eyes are burnt, keep sitting up to reduce swelling

Burns that require immediate A&E treatment are:

  • Chemical or electrical
  • Large or deep – bigger than the injured person’s hand
  • Those that cause white or charred skin
  • Those on the face, hands, limbs, feet or genitals that blister

Pregnant women, children under five, the elderly, those with a weak immune system and people suffering from a medical condition, like diabetes, should also go to hospital.

Treatment depends on what layers of the skin are affected. 

In severe cases, a skin graft may be required.

Source: NHS Choices  


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