The youngest of three children, Marius was a happy child who loved playing soccer and running around the family’s farm.
Marius grew up with his family in a small village in Romania. His life drastically changed in November 2007 when his home caught on fire while he and his parents were inside. Luckily his two other siblings were not at home. The fire took all of his fingers, eyelids and nose, and left him with burns on more than 75% of his body. His parents did not survive.
Two months into his eight-month hospital stay, two students from Brigham Young University who were participating in a special program visited the hospital and met Marius. They were shocked when they first saw him and knew that he would not get the adequate care needed to recover in Romania. They decided to try to get him to the United States. They sent pictures back home to their families and worked endlessly to get him a home and the medical help he needed.
The families felt hopeful about bringing Marius to the U.S. once doctors at Shriners Children’s Southern California committed to performing the needed surgeries and taking care of the burn injuries and resultant scarring. In August 2008, Marius and his brother, who was acting as his legal guardian, arrived in Los Angeles and a family legally adopted him.
The medical staff and people at Shriners Children's are just super caring, loving, always want the best for the person that they’re with. I’ve never been to another hospital or any other place that is like that.
The medical team that operated on Marius were Katherine Au, M.D., and Neil Jones, M.D., both plastic surgeons and hand surgeons. After Marius had surgery on his eyelids to prevent him from losing sight, an additional surgery to reduce and improve effects of residual scarring, he began a lengthy procedure to reconstruct his nose. The process took approximately three months and involved transferring cartilage from his ribs and skin from his scalp.
One of the most important living skills that Marius needed to regain was the ability to feed himself. The Shriners Children’s Southern California surgical team suggested toe-to-hand surgery. Determined to live as independently as possible, Marius and his family agreed to the surgery, and Dr. Jones transferred six toes to his hands.
Today, Marius is a physically active adult despite having only two toes and six fingers. His goal is to become a motivational speaker to demonstrate acceptance of his appearance and of who he is. “You don’t need to see yourself as a different person but as a new person,” said Marius.
He is grateful for the role Shriners Children’s has had in his life. He served as a National Patient Ambassador and is excited to be a member of the Patient Alumni Network. “I would like to think I never graduated from the Shriners Children's system and that I simply just kept sharpening my tools that I was talking and sharing my story. Once COVID hit I was able to use social media to share my story on Tiktok, where now I have 1.1 million followers and I’m working in Las Vegas."
A recent proud moment was when Marius was selected by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons as one of five for the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity program, which honors reconstructive plastic surgery patients whose lives were restored through reconstructive plastic surgery and whose charitable actions influence the lives around them. He was nominated by ASPS member Dr. Katherine Au for his optimistic outlook on life and the way he affects people around him, in spite of the difficulties of his reconstructive procedures.