Mum lost legs, ear and part of mouth in fire that changed life ‘for the better’

At the age of just seven months Jessica Davies' life was changed forever.

In February 1986 a fire tore through her family home, leaving her with 65% burns to her body.

She lost both her legs, fingers, ear and part of her mouth, reports Wales Online.

Now aged 34 living in Pembrokeshire with her four children, aged one to 16, Jessica wants to inspire others who have been through difficulties – and to tell them tragedy doesn't have to define their life.

Here is her incredible story:

"My name is Jess, mamma of four, burn survivor, and amputee.

"My life path began on that hot summers day in June 1985.

"My mum often talks of the day my twin sister and I were born – the joy, happiness, and instant love she had for us both.

"But my life changed direction on that cold winters day in February 1986, when a accidental house fire tore through my family home. My new pathway through life had begun.

"I was just seven months old. While being airlifted to hospital, I had lost my life several times and my mum repeatedly said her goodbyes, but I refused to give in.

"My twin sustained 3rd degree burns to her feet and parts of her face.

"The fire left me with 65% burns to my body and took away both my legs, fingers, ear, hair and part of my mouth

"My injuries were so widespread across my body that they struggled to find skin to graft. They managed to take some from my back but the majority of grafts were taken from my twin sister.

"I learned that I stayed in hospital for over five months hooked up to a ventilator that had to specially made to fit my tiny, frail body.

"I underwent the first of over at least 80 operations almost instantly to give me the best chance of survival.

"When I came out of intensive care, I probably had about three operations a week for another three months afterwards.

"I healed amazingly at home I was on a pretty hardcore timetable to help me achieve the things I needed to do – spending hours a day doing physiotherapy and other treatments provided by the occupational therapy service.

"Incredibly I went on to do everything an average baby would be doing hitting all milestones. At the age of just one, I stood up straight on my stumps for the first time.

"It wasn't long though before I was running around on my first pair of prosthetic legs. I had no problems at all keeping up with my siblings and giving my mum the run around!

"Growing up it never really occurred to me that I should have advantages and exceptions, it never occurred to me I was brave, heroic or inspirational, even when I won a national child of courage award in 1996.

"I was treated just the same as my siblings very few expectations were made – even chores! The only understandable exception was having a bedroom built downstairs.

"I just lived a normal life learning to do things in a different ways. I was fiercely independent and did everything my siblings and friends did, if they went skateboarding so did I, I would just roll along using my hands. I rode a specially adapted bike with my hands too.

"I would always find a way to overcome obstacles.

"I didn't have legs but I overcame obstacles by walking on my hands and climbing on to things even trees.

"On one occasion, it led to some stern words from my mother when she received a knock on the door from a policeman with me in one hand and a soaking wet pair of legs in the other.

"Long story short, my legs gave way and flew off in to the stream while I climbed a tree. My friends thought it would be a good idea to hang them from a tree to dry.

"You can only imagine the horror and confused look on the policeman's face when he looked up to see a pair of legs hanging from the tree.

"I carried this can do attitude in to my adulthood.

"The first thing I did once I turned 17 was learn to drive. The car is specially adapted with hand controls, this gave me the independence I needed to get around I started a job working with disabled young adults, helping others like me gain all important life skills to live independently. It was the most rewarding job ever.

"Once I started earning a wage I was able to move in to my own flat.

"One year later someone came along to show me that there were more challenges to overcome and quickly.

"Her name is Tyler May and she is the first of my four children born in June 2003.

"I had always known I wanted to be a mum from a young age I knew it wouldn't come without challenges and boy were they dished out like penny sweets!

"All four of my pregnancies were difficult towards the end. My wheelchair was my saving grace.

"My scars would stretch so tight with my expanding bump, it felt like I was in a vice being stretched beyond limits. It's funny how you almost forget these things ever happened the minute that baby is put in your arms, and you don't remember or feel anything but love.

"Before long, I found a rhythm. I would wheel her around in a little basket when I didn't have my legs on, and I created a little changing station on the floor by the stair lift I had at the time.

"I would strap her in a baby sling and spend half an hour just going up and down. Surprisingly, every time put her to sleep!

"Things became much easier when my third baby came along. We moved in to our new disabled adapted bungalow with all fancy mod cons and all the units were motorised which meant I could change nappies and prep bottles all at my level.

"Growing up the kids have never once asked me why I'm different to them I was just there mum who did everything a mummy would do they didn't really know any different.

"Some aspects of parenting are a bit more challenging. For instance, pushing a pram – that's easy but hanging on to a pram for dear life going down hills is a different story.

"Whatever challenges I face, though, being a mother never outweighs the positives. My children are my inspiration.

"People often ask me how I stay positive with having my disability. For me, I think it helped that I was such a young age when the accident happened.

"I just didn't know any other way. Whatever I learnt to do, I had to do it with two missing limbs.

"I believe your disability only affects daily life if you allow it you have to take charge and allow yourself to live the life that you want, not what you think you can can't do.

"I just live my life without limits.

"My disability has been, and is, my main challenge, but disability has taught me the most about life. But I have had bad experiences.

"There was the time when I was around 18 sat in a café minding my own business, when this elderly gentleman came up to me and said how sorry he felt for me, and what a shame I looked the way I did (like someone chucked me in a bonfire were his words).

"The positives always outweigh the negatives, though, and I can equally say I have had some of the greatest experiences.

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