The nurse laid the baby in the crib. When she looked at his face a few minutes later, she screamed in horror.

While he is only 2-years-old, Matvey Zakharenko is different than other children. He doesn’t realize this yet, though there have been others who have not been willing to hold him or touch him. He doesn’t seem to remember the bad accident which almost took his life, and scarred him badly. But really, he is a child like any other and he loves attention and loves to play.

Born in November 2014 in Tula, Russia, Matvey was a healthy baby, but did have a mild case of jaundice. He was put under a special lamp to treat the condition.

At one point the nurse briefly left the room and something happened. The lamp ended up exploding while igniting a fire. The nurse returned, extinguishing the fire. But it was too late as the 3-day-old infant now had burns that covered 75% of his body. Organs were also damaged. The baby went through incredible pain. His skin peeled right off. But he survived.

Then Matvey’s mother, 19-years-old, did something surprising. She realized the massive amount of operations and treatments that would go on forever, and that he never would fully recover. So she decided she couldn’t deal with any of it and didn’t want to be part of his life anymore.

It was shocking to hear the mother was going to abandon him, so it would be up to volunteers, human rights activists, doctors and many others throughout Russia to help find a new home for the boy.

He was put up for adoption, and the whole country ended up knowing about the child. With the help of media, Matvey became sort of a national celebrity. The best hospitals in Russia were now offering up their help. Several families wanted to adopt him.

It was a year after the accident, and there was competition for adopting Matvey. This was complicating the situation and the process was being dragged on and on. Then the biological mother tried to get custody back, after he became famous. Judges in Matvey’s case ended up granting custody to a woman from Moscow named Svetlana. Svetlana was the one woman who had stayed away from the media spotlight, uninterested in publicity, solely focused on providing Matvey a good life.

But by now people were hooked on Matvey and his story. They wanted to know about his progress, so the new mom began a blog which detailed how he was doing.

“It’s time to write and tell you how we’re doing. The adoption process is complete. Matvey is now officially a member of our family, but that was just a formality. We’ve already loved him for a long time.”

Several surgeries have already been done. More will be needed in the future. His hands can be moved. His nose hasn’t been able to be reconstructed. Sometimes he wears a prosthetic. Nevertheless, he still can smile and that’s what he indeed does best.

He’s even been to the beach already! Check out this video:

He is 2-years-old now, and indeed he has suffered an enormous amount of pain already. Still it is his courage, and his new loving family, that creates a great amount of happiness and positive energy. He remains strong and continues to smile!

Share his story and his smile with friends and family!