Schoolboy Burnt So Severely Facebook Put ‘Graphic Image Warning’ On His Face
When Zaid Garcia was two years old, a candle caught fire to his home, with the flames engulfing his blanket as he slept.
Doctors said he wouldn’t survive. However, now at the age of 16, he’s a walking miracle.
The schoolboy extraordinarily survived 80% burns to his body, though he paid a heavy toll. As well as undergoing amputations to his hands and toes, Zaid’s eyes were so badly damaged that surgeons covered them in skin to recover, so the youngster has not been able to see since he was a toddler.
Now, he’s on a mission to get his sight back so he can ‘see his female best pal’s beauty’ for the first time. But, as he marches on with fundraising, Facebook have covered images of his face with a ‘graphic image warning’.
Zaid underwent ‘too many operations to remember’, leaving him with one toe on his right foot, not able to walk flat, and with no vision.
To raise money for his surgery, a GoFundMe page was set up by non-profit organisation Special Books for Special Kids, which has amassed more than $292,000 (£225,935) so far.
Zaid, from Galveston, Texas, said:
I’m sharing my story to inspire people and show them that miracles do exist. When I was two-and-a-half my mum took me to bed and […] a candle fell and it caught on fire. I was super injured. I’ve had so many operations now that I can’t even remember. I’ll probably have more skin grafts [in the future].
They amputated both my hands and they took the fingers too. I have both my legs and feet. I have five [toes] on the left and on the right, I have one [toe]. I don’t walk normally. I don’t step flat. The doctors shut my eyes [under] the skin. I don’t know why they didn’t just take them out – probably because they thought I would see in the future.
So my next hope is to get my vision back. I’ve been blind since the accident. If I was to have this surgery it would be the first time I’d see the world properly [since before the fire]. To be able to see my family again after 14 years will be good. I think it’ll be cool.
The first thing I want to see would be one of my friends. My best friend from school, Julia. I’d like to see her beauty, I guess.
After the incident, Zaid was flown from his former home in Mexico to a hospital in San Antonio, where he received the treatment for fourth degree burns, which ultimately saved his life.
When Zaid was released from hospital, his family settled in Texas, where he currently attends a school for the blind. Doctors predicted he would never talk or walk, but after tackling adversity head-on, he’s considered a medical marvel.
Zaid has overcome many obstacles throughout his life but remains hopeful for the future, when he plans to become a translator and motivational speaker.
I hope people will realise that you shouldn’t give up just because they tell you you’re not going to make it. I want to encourage people. The doctors said I was going to die. There was no hope for me. They predicted that I would not be able to talk, but I’m a miracle because of that. I can say thank you in nine languages.
The most important thing for me is learning languages – Finish, Swedish, Danish, Chinese. In the future I want to be an interpreter and maybe a motivational speaker. Spanish is my first language and I learnt English at school when I was just nine-years-old.
I’m a sophomore this year. I’m working hard on my exams and I will probably go to college. My parents say to me ‘be good’ when I go to school. They are very supportive and encourage me to carry on as if nothing happened.
The teen longs to simply ‘be accepted’ – however, his already vulnerable self esteem was further damaged when Facebook covered photos of his face with a ‘graphic image warning’.
It was hard growing up to be honest. People are scared of me because of the way I look and when I was young, I tried to commit suicide. My mum told me that was not the right thing. I was finding it hard to fit in at school and make friends. I work hard to improve each day. I just want to be accepted.
When people meet my parents, my mum prepares them. She explains ‘hey, I have a child with disabilities’. She prepares them. Of course, they get surprised, but [soon] they only care about my personality. [When people meet me now], I hope that they think I’m interesting – that I’m easy to talk to.
I like going out with friends and giving them time to talk with me if they need something. I like to sing and sometimes I write songs or poems. I love art and playing around with pencils. I have other interests, and I hope people see that when they meet me.
Some people described the social media giant’s actions as ‘disgusting and discriminatory’, sparking a petition to unblock Zaid’s photos – they have now apologised for covering the 16-year-old’s face and ‘the pain caused’.
A Facebook spokesperson said:
We want Facebook to be a place where people can share their stories. While we sometimes apply a warning label to images of graphic injuries based on indications such as reports from users, we don’t always get it right as context is important as well.
After a closer review, the warning label has been removed and we apologise for the pain that this has caused.
To donate money towards Zaid’s surgery, please click here.
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