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A woman has said she has been ghosted by men because of the third degree burns she was left with after being dropped into a bath of hot water as a baby.
Certified medical assistant Danielle Nielson, 30, developed anxiety after the incident which happened when she was just 13-months-old. She avoided dating in high school and didn't start dating until she went to college for fear of what boys would say about her scars.
On several occasions, boys Danielle plucked up the courage to talk to ghosted her after realising she had a prosthetic leg.
"I didn't date at all until college and I know it's because of my scars and leg. Boys during high school are superficial," explained Danielle who is from Highland, Utah, USA.
"All you care about as a teenager is your appearance and I was very different from everyone.
"I've had people make grossed out looks at the pool if I take my prosthetic off.
"I've also had guys stop talking to me once they found out about my leg, which certainly has knocked my confidence.
Since college, Danielle has found the confidence in herself to date, and even got married in 2017.
Despite the relationship recently ending in divorce, Danielle gave birth to her son Thomas, three. Danielle is currently in no rush to find someone new, but knows she will have the confidence to do so when the time is right.
Danielle was adopted into a large family and became one of 15 siblings. With such a busy household, 13-month old Danielle's older brother Michael, 42 - who was 12 at the time - had to give her an evening bath.
On Christmas Eve in 1991, Michael asked Danielle's older sisters Natasha, now 34, and Samantha, also 34, to take their sisters to the bathroom and wait for him there. However, after becoming impatient, the two four-year-olds put Danielle into the bath filled with hot water.
Danielle was unable to scream after she went into shock and within minutes her skin started to melt. Her sisters eventually alerted her father who pulled her out of the water and she was rushed to hospital.
"Immediately I went into shock from the heat of the water, so they had no idea anything was happening until my skin started melting off," she recalls.
"I was not expected to live that first night and almost lost my life throughout my four-month hospital stay due to constant infections.
The severity of her burns meant that her right foot and left little finger had to be amputated because the blood supply to them had been cut off.
"I had my right foot and left little finger amputated. I also had endless skin grafts to repair my exposed flesh.
"The doctors told my mum that even with a prosthetic, I probably wouldn't walk for two years, if at all."
She spent the next four months in hospital, undergoing dozens of skin graft operations, whilst battling constant infections. Danielle survived against all odds and returned home in April 1991, fitted with a new prosthetic leg.
Despite Danielle's mother being told that she wouldn't walk for at least two years if at all, Danielle was miraculously up and walking just two weeks later.
The injuries Danielle suffered as a baby still affect her life every day and impacted her time at school, too.
"I would hide my hands from my parents hoping they wouldn't remember to do my stretches, but they always did.
"This was an excruciating process and I still remember the throbbing pain as my fingers were forced straight and then into a fist and then splinted.
"I remember cradling my hand and just crying at school. Growing up with a prosthetic was hard on my body.
"Because of the damage done to my muscles and joints from the burns, my knee with the prosthetic has been through a lot.
"My kneecap dislocates if I don't pay attention to my foot placement or slip. It got the point that the tendons got so stretched out that the slightest wrong move would knock it out.
"I remember being a kid and other kids going to hand me something and saying don't touch me."
However, Danielle is determined to use her new-found confidence to her advantage.
In 2020, Danielle acquired the crown of Miss South Jordan and plans to compete for the prestigious title of Miss Utah in May this year with the dream of competing for the Miss America crown - something she would never have had the confidence to do in her younger years.
"For those who are struggling with body confidence issues or from a disability, just know that you are more than a body.
"You are a survivor. Remember to ask for help when you need it. Don't be afraid to shine. Chase your dreams and the right people will stay by your side."
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