On a beautiful day in 2012, thousands gathered to attend a political rally in Armenia's capital of Yerevan. The atmosphere was festive, with decorative clusters of white balloons floating like clouds over the heads of the crowd. It was beautiful. Until someone lit a cigarette.
Instead of helium, the balloons had been filled with highly flammable hydrogen gas. The flame ignited the gas and started a chain reaction of explosions that resembled a giant fireball. The people in the crowd, many of them children, panicked as burning rubber rained down, sticking to their skin and setting their hair and clothes on fire. By the time the fires were extinguished, more than 140 people had suffered horrific burns.
Most of the victims healed, but many suffered painful, disfiguring scars that limited mobility. Hospitals in Armenia did not have the technology to help them. Quanta, an aesthetic laser company with a commitment to helping those most in need, learned of the tragedy and sent help.
In October, a team of American doctors headed by Dr. R. Rox Anderson and leadership from Quanta Aesthetic Lasers (United States) and Quanta System (Italy) traveled to Armenia on a mission to donate a Quanta laser to the Arabkir Pediatric Hospital. They were going to train doctors there to use the technology.
What is aesthetic laser technology?
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about cosmetic laser technology is probably tattoo removal, but advancements in the field have led to a far wider range of uses. Modern lasers are used to treat many different conditions, including repairing damaged skin, removing warts, body sculpting, treating varicose veins and hair and tattoo removal.
When researchers at the Jaycee Burn Center in North Carolina followed the treatment and progress of 147 burn victims, they noted dramatic improvement in all patients. They theorize that innovative laser treatments may replace traditional methods of treatment and return far greater results.
The life of a burn victim.
Fire leaves terrible reminders on its victims -- thick, gnarled scars and discolored skin where grafts are taken to replace skin on the burned areas. There is no mistaking a burn victim. Fire is a life-altering event that happens all too often.
Nancy Dohanos knows first-hand just how devastating fire can be. In 2009, a fire in her Ohio home left her badly burned, changing her life forever. Here's her story:
“My life changed in the blink of an eye. I woke from a nap to a small blaze of fire. I remember the heat on my hand as I tried to open the door. No luck. Before I could get out, fire was everywhere. I dashed into the bathroom. I remember wetting towels, climbing into the bathtub, and praying while thick, dark smoke filled the room. I spent the next three months in a coma.
"I woke in a burn unit, bandaged head to toe, with no knowledge of what had happened. I was on heavy pain medications, and it took days to understand what had happened. Each day was filled with indescribable pain as the doctors and nurses worked to remove the burned skin and graft new skin over the burned areas. About 60 percent of my body was burned.
"I still live in constant pain, and scarring covers most of my body. I've had a lot of surgery since. My heart goes out to the victims of this fire, because I know how hard it is to live after you've been burned. I used to swim 60 laps a day. I loved getting dressed up and going to dinner. Seven years has passed, and everything has changed now. But life goes on and so do I.
"I sincerely hope the children in this story can be helped by laser treatment. Extensive scarring changes your life in ways most people can't imagine.”
Corporate culture heroes.
In a world overrun by news stories of corporate greed and malfeasance, it's refreshing to find a company that still values people over profits.
"We believe that companies have an obligation to give back to those in need. We have seen first-hand the impact that our lasers can have on those who may otherwise not have access to the devices. The chance to take a Quanta laser to Armenia, train local doctors how to operate it, and then donate the device to the Arabkir Pediatric Hospital so it can bring healing for years to come -- that blesses us as much as it will the children of Armenia.” -- Michael Sparks, CEO of Quanta