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Survivor of 1990 plane crash becomes motivational speaker after learning to accept her scars

November 7, 2016

When Tulsi Vagjiani was 10, she lost both her parents, her brother, and nearly her own life after their plane crashed on the way home to the U.K. from India on February 14, 1990. A fellow passenger who survived the crash dragged her to safety, but Tulsi was left with severe burns to her face and body. Tulsi, now 36, says her most vivid memory of the incident came a month after the accident — when she looked in a mirror and saw how her face had changed.

“It’s all so confusing,” Tulsi said. “The next memory I have is me looking in the mirror after a month or so … and that was awful. It was like I was looking at someone else.”

Tulsi required regular skin graft treatments for five years after the crash, but the impact to her mental health proved just as severe — if not more so. “I was having 50 to 60 bad episodes a year. I had no confidence. I kept looking at others and thinking ‘I wish I could look like that.’ ‘I wish I could do that,'” Tulsi recalled. Her classmates, she added, would bully her because of her burns.

The trouble for Tulsi would not end there. In the midst of earning her college degree, she was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. She underwent a kidney transplant, but issues with the medication led to frequent urine and kidney infections. But Tulsi persevered, earning a degree in applied health science and beginning a career as a pilates teacher. And after getting in touch with the Katie Piper foundation, which raises awareness for burn victims, she was offered hair restoration and medical tattooing by the foundation.

“I finally had eyebrows, I finally saw my face. They defined my face. And then I had hair, and everything started to make sense,” Tulsi said. Tulsi would eventually become friends with Katie, and now works on behalf of the foundation herself as a motivational speaker.

“I’ve finally accepted my scars. I love them, and I don’t want to hide them,” said Tulsi. “I can finally see my beauty shining through. I can finally see what others see.”

Read the full story at Metro.


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