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Sophie Delezio survived two horrific accidents as a child. This is her life at 19.

In 2003, a brave little toddler captured the hearts of thousands of Australians when she became involved in an accident at the Roundhouse Childcare Centre in NSW.

That day, two-year-old Sophie Delezio suffered burns to 85 per cent of her body after she became trapped under a burning vehicle which had crashed into the childcare centre and caught alight.

The toddler lost both her legs below the knee and her right hand and ear.

A now 19-year-old Sophie has told Anh's Brush with Fame her parents were given the option to turn off her life support.

WATCH: Sophie chatting to Anh. Post continues after video.


Video via ABC.

"It’s such a wild thought that a simple ‘yes’ and I would not be here," she said, admitting that growing up her mum and dad never discussed that decision with her.

"It’s something that’s always gone unspoken for our family. Just because we knew it was an option and they chose not to, it’s as simple as that. They chose to hold on."

Sophie with her parents after the accident in 2003. Image: ABC.

But this wasn’t her final challenge. Three years later, in May 2006, Sophie was hit by a car as her nanny pushed her wheelchair across the road near her home in Sydney's northern beaches.

This time the car threw her 18 metres from her wheelchair. The resulting injuries included a broken jaw, broken ribs, fractured collarbone and a punctured lung as well as bleeding on her brain and a heart attack. Just a month later she was released from hospital and had returned to school by July that year.

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As she told Anh Do, she still has brain damage from that second accident, which has affected her ability to learn, and she has lost her sense of smell.

Sophie Delezio in 2008. Image: Getty. Now, 17 years later, Sophie is an upbeat young woman, recovering more with each new surgery and finding her place in the world.

One of the most common surgeries she had growing up was getting her legs trimmed.

"Because my legs were so badly burnt, and my skin wouldn’t grow but my bones would keep on growing, we basically had to cut them back every year to stop them because it would cause these major wounds. Every year I had it done, so it was just a normal thing for me," she told Do. 

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Every year she'd also get new prosthetics, and more recently she's loved the surgeries that have helped her grow her hair.

"I had these procedures called tissue expanders. I started with just a strip of hair, and every week you’d inject it with saline to stretch the skin and after two months they’d ‘pop’ it and stretch it all over my head. I have no idea about the science behind it all I know is I have hair. 

"For me hair is such a distinct feature. I’ve tried wigs but I have such sensitive skin it irritates, and I get hot very easily because my skin grafts can’t release heat," she told the ABC program.

Sophie lives in London now, where she's studying sociology and international relations and living alone for the first time without any carers or support staff helping her.

As she told Woman's Day recently she has never let the accidents define her, or prevent her from achieving her ambitions, one of which was studying abroad.  

"In my mind I'm not 'Sophie the girl with no legs' but someone completely normal. I think of myself as Sophie the chatterbox, the socialite, the girl who loves a good hamburger and enjoys each day as much as she can," she told Now To Love.

Ahead of Sophie's move to London last year, her father told Sunrise that he believes she's been ready to move overseas for years.

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"I think she’s been ready for this before the accident at two years of age," he said.

"She'd fall over and get straight back up again.

"We’re very proud of her. She’s very self-reliant now, street smart. She’ll do well."

Sophie wasn't bullied at school, but she was excluded from things because people just assumed she couldn't do them. 

"But I’ve skydived, and I go to the gym five days a week," she told the ABC

During an interview on the Today Show in 2018, Sophie shared how thrilled she was to be getting her driver’s licence as a teenager.

"I need help most of the time just to drive me around because it’s harder for me to catch transport so just the fact that I’d be able to take myself places and not having to ask for that extra assistance," she said at the time.

Speaking to the Women's Weekly, Sophie's father Ron described her as a "determined young woman".

"She has had to be determined and strong all her life. After everything that she has endured in the past 15 years, her just being alive is a testament to how determined she really is. She has had a plan to live overseas for at least a couple of years and she's been quietly working toward that goal the entire time," he said.

"Her injuries are such that she needs constant treatment from a team of surgical and burns-care specialists. In the past 15 years, she's probably had more than 100 operations to adjust the skin grafts that cover her body. That's an incredible amount of surgery for anyone to have, let alone a teenager who is trying to live life the best she can. Yet we've let her assume the responsibility for most of the regime herself in recent years. I can't tell you how proud I am of her. She's incredible."

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Reflecting on her parent's support over the years, Sophie told Anh's Brush With Fame the most special moments with her mum and dad were always just before she went into surgery. 

Her dad taught her to shout "I'm a strong girl," as she was getting ready to go under, and she'd be so focused on that she'd often forget where she was. 

Sophie is still in pain with a constant feeling of a "metal spoon stabbing her" in her head, and pressure wounds from her prosthetics. 

"But freedom always outweighed pain for me," she told Anh Do. "I take painkillers every morning when I wear them. I just brush my teeth and take painkillers."

Sophie has also chosen not to dwell on her hardships and says, "No matter what you go through there’s always going to be some positive even though you might not see it at the time."

"I went through a lot and I've suffered and been in pain and it's horrible, but you've got to look at all the joy that's happened. I wouldn't know the people I know... like my best friends, I wouldn't know them."

You can watch Anh's Brush With Fame on ABC iView. 

Feature Image: ABC.

This post was originally published on April 20, 2018, and updated on August 19, 2020.

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