Dana Ek sustained burns from a suspected terrorist explosion in her home country of Syria.
"We ran out of the building trying to escape, but the emergency door of the residence was locked," Dana explains. She managed to get her children out of the house but Dana and her parents were unable to escape. "The fire caught me," she says. "I waited to die."
"Because of the war in Syria, there were no spaces in the hospitals and no Burns Units would accept us," she says. After being moved from one hospital to the next, Dana was treated at Almahayni Hospital in her hometown of Damascus.
Her parents died a few days later due to their injuries.
Dana, who is now 31, was treated for 1st and 2nd-degree burns to parts of her body and 3rd and 4th-degree burns to her hands, legs, and feet. "The hospitals lacked most medicines because of the war. I was in pain all the time," she says.
After two months in ICU (Intensive Care Unit), Dana, her children, and her sister-in-law travelled by car to Lebanon and searched for an airline to France, where her husband lived. She had already been refused by one airline because of her critical injuries. After three days, they found an airline, which would take her and flew to Paris.
"I reached Paris just a few hours before my visa expiry time," she says. Shortly after her arrival, Dana travelled seven hours by car to Rangueil Hospital in Toulouse. She was granted treatment for one-month where she underwent three skin grafts.
"I was happy because I was finally safe and had access to pain relief, but I was sad because I didn't get to say goodbye to my friends, family, and home," she says. "I didn't even get to say goodbye to my parents when they died."
Dana, who studies French in a language center, now continues to have physical therapy and will prepare for more surgery next month. "My scars are painful, swollen and red," she says.
After the war, which could take years, Dana and her family have hopes to return to Syria, where they can be reunited with other family and friends. She says, "I love Syria because it's my homeland - all of my memories are there."