Not so long ago, Alexander and Olga Ovchar led a perfectly normal life. Living in a small town in eastern Ukraine, the couple had been happily married for many years and were the proud parents of two daughters, Nastya and Luda. Everyone in town was familiar with the two lively girls, but nobody could’ve imagined that their names would soon be known across the country.
Though Nastya was only five years old, she often helped her parents around the house. By giving her responsibility at an early age, Nastya’s parents showed that they trusted her. Then came the moment that would change her life forever: while her father was at work, Nastya’s mother had to quickly leave the house to run an errand. During this time, the girl was left to look after her two-year-old sister — with tragic consequences.
Like many other people in the town, the Ovchars lived in a large wooden house with an open fireplace. It only took one spark to set the entire building ablaze in a very short amount of time; Nastya’s clothes quickly turned to ash while she was still wearing them. However, the young girl acted smartly by grabbing Luda and wrapping her little sister in a blanket. She then ran outside as fast as she could.
It was at this moment that a neighbor noticed that the house was on fire. Remembering the scene as if it were yesterday, she described how the naked and badly burnt girl ran screaming from the family home, holding the bundle tightly to her chest. When she rushed over to the girl, Nastya handed her the bundle — her sister was left unscathed. In the meantime, an ambulance was called.
Now at the hospital, Nastya was fighting desperately for her own life; doctors gave her a very low chance of survival. With over 80 percent of her body covered in burns, only Nastya’s face escaped the flames. The pain was unbearable — even the slightest contact from her mother left Nastya in agony.
Thankfully, Nastya managed to survive. As soon as the local media caught wind of this brave little hero’s story, thousands of people took an active interest in her fate. With donations soon coming in, the girl was treated in Kiev before being transferred to Boston.
Though doctors worked tirelessly to ensure that Nastya could later lead a normal life, it was a long and winding road to recovery. As she was still growing up, the scarred skin could not grow as quickly as the rest of her body was. This meant she needed two operations every year. Twelve years since the fire, Nastya has undergone 24 operations.
Even today, people in the Ukraine talk about about Nastya and Luda’s story. The family took on a different name so that they could protect the young girl’s privacy and keep her out of the public eye. Wanting to live a normal life, Nastya is now set on fulfilling her biggest dream: becoming a doctor.
If you’d like to find out more about this fascinating story, watch the following documentary (in Russian):
Nastya, now 18, would like to start studying medicine soon and already knows what she’d like to specialize in: burns victims. She believes that her own experiences will help her reach that goal — and who can argue with her. Good luck, Nastya!