Raquel Nunn has always been stubborn, according to her sister Claudia.
“If she wants to do something she’ll make sure it’s done,” said Claudia. “There’s no compromising that.”
It’s that stubbornness that Claudia and her other sister Gabriela hope will help Raquel pull through the biggest battle of her life. One week ago, a gas leak caused an explosion at Raquel’s apartment in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. Raquel, 26, suffered severe burns to over 60 percent of her body, including her face.
“You never think that something like that can happen to someone you love and know,” said Gabriela.
Gabriela, who lives in San Francisco, and Claudia, who lives in Austin, Texas, returned to their hometown of Voorhees, New Jersey to be there for their sister, who remains at the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in critical condition. Raquel’s doctor says that in cases like her patient’s, the second week after an injury can be the most crucial.
“The patients do well their first week and then the problem that they have is infection,” said Dr. Mary Lou Patton. “The skin is what protects you from infection. So with a large burn, infection gets into the lungs and into the bloodstream.”
Raquel faces months of treatment and may possibly have to undergo several surgeries. She has no insurance which is why her friends and family are working together to help her. On Thursday, a fundraiser at the restaurant where Raquel works brought in more than $3,000. An online fund has also raised more than $5,000. Gabriela and Claudia, who plan to move back to New Jersey permanently as Raquel continues to recover, say they’re touched by the outpouring of support.
“It shows a lot about who she is as a person that so many people care about her and love her so much,” said Gabriela.
“It’s nice knowing there’s support and they’re allowing us as a family to just be here with her,” said Claudia while in tears. “We say ‘thank you’ every day, but we don’t feel that’s enough.”
If you want to learn how to donate to help with Raquel's medical expenses, visit the Recovery for Raquel Facebook Page.
Friends and family are also searching for Raquel's cat Leo, who was spotted after the apartment fire. The family tells NBC10 Leo was seen several times on White Horse Pike in Haddon Heights. If you've spotted the cat, be sure to notify the Recovery for Raquel Facebook Page. Claudia says the best way to catch Leo is to use his favorite foods, shrimp and green beans, to lure him in.
"She loves that cat," said Claudia. "Once we get him back I think she'll be able to fully focus on herself."