Married At First Sight Australia's Martha Kalifatidis has revealed that she was in a horrific car accident as a teenager that killed her cousin and seriously injured her.
She opened up about the traumatic ordeal in an interview with 9Honey after she was asked about a scar on her leg that people had noticed when she was wearing a bikini on a recent holiday in Cairns, Australia.
Martha told her interviewer that she was only 16 when the accident happened: "My cousin [George] had picked me and two friends up from the bar we were at. He was super-protective and always kept a close eye on me especially if I was out - he was always a phone call away.
"He had not been drinking and was the designated driver. We were having too much fun, so we went for a joy ride before we headed home… and lost control and hit a tree."
The "force" of the accident was so strong that it uprooted the tree they had hit. While Martha's friends were able to walk away from the car unscathed, Martha and her cousin were trapped inside the car.
They needed to be cut free using the jaws of life. It took emergency services an hour to remove George and an hour and a half to free Martha.
George did not survive the accident and Martha considers herself "very lucky to be alive".
She shattered her thigh bone in the accident and had to have several operations to repair her leg over the following months.
Martha was confined to a wheelchair and had to stay at her grandparent's house because she needed full-time care and her family's house was not wheelchair-friendly.
Despite her friends never leaving her side - "I was constantly surrounded by people," she says - it was a difficult time for Martha.
"While all my friends were having sweet sixteenths and going out on first dates, I was learning to walk again... I felt lost and didn't have much direction until I was a lot older."
She missed a lot of school.
However, Martha says, "It's made me grow to be really resilient and who I am today.
"I realised very early on in life that we never know what tomorrow will bring and just how short our time on earth really is. Not much can get me down these days, I always look on the bright side."
Martha and her MAFS husband Michael Brunelli are one of only two couples to have stayed together after the show ended.
They've said previously that they're as surprised as anyone that they've remained together. However, Michael credits their lasting bond to not putting too many expectations on one another: "We just didn't put any pressure on each other, we just let it grow naturally," he has said.
It has also helped that Martha moved to Melbourne to be close to Michael, however they're not in each other's pockets. Martha lives with her family while Michael is in a flat one street away. They see one another a few times a week.
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