Up until October 30th, 2002, Daniela Garcia was 22 and had a comfortable life of a young woman growing up in Chile’s educated upper class. She was an excellent medicine student and was in the final month of her fourth year at PUC. She had a four year relationship with her boyfriend.
It was the time of the annual Inter-Medical School Games in Temuco. Daniela wasn’t sure she wanted to go because she was worried about a dermatology exam. But her classmates needed her soccer abilities. Finally she relented.
The train began the journey. Around 10 pm, two friends asked her to walk with them to the other cars. The walkway was not in place. Daniela followed her friend in the dark, took a step and suddenly fell.
She felt no pain. But she raised her head and looked: her hands, forearms and part of her legs weren’t there. .
She began to yell and scream, “Help me! Please help me!” A farm worker heard and helped her.
The crushing amputations by the train wheels made it impossible to reattach any of Daniela’s limbs. Then she was in a Santiago hospital, for six weeks and after this she traveled to the Moss Rehabilitation Institute at Albert Einstein University, in Pennsylvania. Dr. Esquenazi told her: “Your life will be what you do with it.” Six week later, Daniela flew home to Santiago with her family. Ricardo, her boyfriend was waiting to meet her at the airport.
Almost a year to the date of her accident, she re-entered medical school; she would be given no special treatment due to her own abilities. She was going to be a rehabilitation doctor.
In November 2003, she and Ricardo went to the stadium and told her story to millions of people that were watching Telethon. The next day the newspapers declared Daniela’s last-minute appearance had single-handedly catapulted the drive to success.
One morning she woke up with the compulsion that she must finish the book with her memories. She wasn’t sure it could be published but she wanted to try. “Elegí Vivir” rapidly sold out its first run. By 2008 it was in its 14th edition.
In March 2007, after the couple took a trip to Europe, Ricardo asked Daniela to marry him. In September 2007, the couple said their vows and then danced the night away. They plan to start a family some day.
Daniela finds there is little she cannot do. Daniela's goals are the same as before the accident: be a good medical rehabilitation, loving wife and someday a mother. Besides she has become the world’s first quadrilateral amputee physician.
Answer the questions with your classmate:
1. Do you think Daniela is a hero? Why?
2. Have you experienced something that changed your life?
3. Do you know someone that lived a similar experience? Write it.
4. What do you think is the most admirable thing that Daniela did?
5. What is your favorite hero? What did she/he do?