Life of Jacqueline Saburido
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Interview with Jacqueline Saburido
When you have a glimpse of Jacqueline from a distance, she appears to be an old lady, as she has all those features such as a saggy neck, splotchy cheeks, and crumpled lips. But the moment she comes near, you would notice her with two ragged nostrils in the name of the nose and a hole as ears on the left side of her face, her amputated fingers and distorted eyes.
Jacqueline was not always like this; in fact, her friends and family remember her as a beautiful girl with smooth brown eyes and hairs, her voice and face always filled with joy. But the Jacqueline we currently know is entirely different, and not because of her age, but she had suffered from third degrees burn in a car crash. According to the discharge reports of the hospital, over 60 percent of her body was burnt, and her face, skin and hairs were melted when she was brought to the hospital (Roger and Celia 1). Doctor Dwyanne Roberts, who was on call, was completely charred beyond recognition the day Jacqueline was brought to the hospital because her eyes were totally exposed, and the eyelids were missing. For this reason, did not expect her to survive (Hafetz 2).
Jacqueline Saburido was born on December 20, 1978 and grew up in Caracas in Venezuela. She is the only daughter of her parents Amadeo and Rosalia, but after they had divorced, she stayed with her father. She lived an independent life just like a free bird who loved to dance, go around with her friends, party, and go to the beaches. Although, her passion was to study English, Jacqueline was pursuing industrial engineering in her college with hopes of joining her father’s air conditioning factor. In 1999, Jacqueline decided to shift to Texas to pursue English, and it had been less than a month that the deadly crash occurred and blazed her life forever.
I had the rare opportunity to interview Jacqueline, whose life was destroyed in flames, and now she fights life every single day so that she can recover. Despite the setback, she was confident and said that she felt like a normal person inside. Jacqueline informed me that as a child she was completely inseparable from her mother who adored her and cared so much about her. In fact, her mother would not even allow a fly to touch her body. Moreover, her father taught her everything such as how to catch a fish to maintain a boat engine.
Although, her friends described her as a naughty, Jacqueline agrees that she was always being stubborn and wanted to dominate almost everything. For instance, her cousins and friends gave the title “Queen of the Power to Convince” because they believed that she could resurrect a person from the dead. Due to her lovely voice, Jacqueline would have the power to make everybody laugh and all people loved to listen to whatever she narrated (Hafetz 14). Although there is no facial expression as Jacqueline spoke about her childhood, parents and friends and family, it is easy to recognize that she misses her normal life.
The day of the tragedy was September 19, 1999, a few minutes past 4:00 on a Sunday morning. On that day, in the company of her four other friends, Jacqueline was returning home from a birthday party at Austin when their car was hit by an SUV driven by Reggie Stephey, killing two people Natalia Bennett and Laura Guerrero on the spot and burnt down Jaqueline who was trapped in the car and her leg was trapped under the dashboard (Hafetz 6).
Since the day of the tragedy in 1999 to date, Jacqueline said that her life had changed and become something she never expected. For instance, she has gone through hundreds of surgical operations, which have affected her health. Every day she hurts inside due to her condition and feels like she is fighting a losing battle because her body trapped with scars. Moreover, sometimes she finds it so difficult to understand why the accident and tragedy happened to her and not to another person.
Since the car crash, Jacqueline said that her father has been her pillar of strength and her true friend because he has never left her side. Her father; Amadeo left his work, his country, his home just to take care of his daughter to ensure that someday she will get back to her normal life. For instance, he took her daughter from one city to another, taking on opinions from every possible doctor, he could reach and explore all options to ensure that her daughter get the right medication and regain her strength (Hafetz 20).
Jacqueline informed me that her father Amadeo has always been her source of strength and has been offering her the greatest support. She remembers that after she had regained her senses she kept questioning doctors, nurses, and her parents about what happened and if she was ever going to get well. Though, no one gave her correct information about her traumatic condition; it was her father gathered courage and explained everything to her. Therefore, she started seeing herself through her father’s eyes as he was preparing her for recovery.
Through her experience, Jacqueline is seen as a hero to various people who have faced similar tragedies. For instance, she is attending several seminars and programs to sensitize people about what damages can result from drinking and driving and what it can do to others. She also motivates people for growing the will power inside them to live and fight life. During the seminars, she asks people to hug though she is fragile and weak, as it makes her strong and close to other people. Laura Dean-Mooney, who is the national president of Mothers against Drunk Driving said, “The world has been touched by her story and everywhere people recognizes her. As a matter of fact, she has one of the most impactful stories in the world.”
Linda Tomasini; who is a safety contract specialist and works at TxDOT in San Antonio comments “for deterring drinking and driving Jacqueline has possibly been the most effectual person, program or campaign, she’s a hero to a lot of people.”
However, away from crowd and people, Jacqueline’s life has not been so inspirational. She says that she had spent many years of her life in a closed room, crying and weeping all the time thinking and wondering if she will ever be independent and normal. But her father keeps encouraging and pushing her to maintain positivity and a strong attitude.
In conclusion, as we ended the interview, Jacqueline informed me that she was trying her very best to get on track. Though, it is a life she never envisaged, she has accepted that it is the life she has now, and she must keep on moving. She is very glad that she survived, and, now she has a chance to do many things in life such as fulfilling her wish to study English. Jacqueline is truly a hero to so many people because she represents the will, confidence and courage to fight a winning battle. Besides, the liveliness she carries is beyond appreciation, and if there something called a ‘miracle,’ then, it should happen with Jacqui so that she and her family can get back to their better lives that they deserve.
Hafetz David. Chasing Hope. Austin American Statesman. 2002. Print.
Roger Highfield, Celia Hall. First British face transplant ‘within a year’. The telegraph. 2005.
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