by Chelsea Schneider - Nov. 29, 2008 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic
Marius Dasianu, 9, suffered severe burns over 75 percent of his body when his house in Romania caught fire. The blaze killed his parents and left Marius to face a long, painful recovery.
The doctors treating Marius had done all they could when Jessica Free, a 20-year-old missionary from Mesa, began visiting him in a Romanian hospital in January.
Marius needed new eyelids and a new nose. His fingers also had to be amputated after the fire.
Free and Ashley Ludlow, a fellow Brigham Young University student, knew the treatments Marius had received weren't enough, so the women formed Team Marius to bring the boy to America. Marius and his brother, Ionut, now live with the Frees in between surgeries and treatments at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Los Angeles.
A benefit concert will be held today at Gilbert High School for Marius. The Shriners pay for his medical care, but renewing visas and paying for travel between Mesa and Los Angeles is costly.
The brothers also may have to go back to Romania during Marius' recovery, which could last until he is 18.
Some of his physical therapy doesn't fall under the hospital's program.
Tickets for the concert featuring country group Due West and LIGHT International Inc., a group of young-adult performers from Gilbert and Mesa, are $10 and $15. Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. at Gilbert High.
"Seeing the pictures, you just know that you can do this," said Free's mother, Kristin.
"We are blessed with a stable family. I have seven kids. Two more wasn't a big deal."
Free stayed home from college this semester to help care for Marius. Pictures of him before the fire tugged at her heart.
She wanted to do all she could to give the boy she met in a hospital bed in Romania a better life.
Since coming to America, Marius' condition has greatly improved. Doctors gave him new eyelids, and he also will receive a new nose and reconstructive surgery on his hands.