Friday, May 2, 2008

Mauled baby gets fresh start in life

Mauled baby gets fresh start in life
21:47' 29/04/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Left for dead and mauled by wild animals, little Phung Thien Nhan’s early days were filled with tragedy. But today the two-year-old is enjoying a positive twist to his unhappy fate - and the promise of a new start in life.

Two-year-old child Ho Thien Nhan.

Shortly after giving birth Nhan’s poverty-stricken, 16-year-old mother abandoned him in a banana plantation in the central province of Quang Nam. When Nhan was found three days later, he was barely alive. His right leg, testicles and penis had been eaten by wild animals.

Local monks named him Ho Thien Nhan, which means charity and goodness. That was two years ago. Today the infant is looking forward to a fresh start.

Begin again

The forebearer of Nhan’s fate is mother-of-two Mai Anh, who went to visit the baby last year. Mai Anh said she first heard about Nhan’s story on the TV in July 2006. Moved by the plight of the tragic child, she joined the Internet forum Webtretho and made friends with other young mothers who were interested in Nhan’s story. "There were many women across the nation who were interested in Nhan’s story. We emailed many international organisations to find ways to get treatment for the boy," she says.

It wasn’t until the end of 2007 that Mai Anh and her friends finally got to visit Nhan, who was being looked after by his grandparents in Quang Nam Province. Mai Anh says she was shocked by what she saw. "I wasn’t prepared for the conditions there," she says. "His grandparents were so poor, Nhan lived like a chicken in the back yard, crawling around on his hands and one foot, eating everything he saw."

Nhan’s grandparents had no money to buy medicine or other provisions needed to take care of a baby, Mai Anh adds. "I was so moved, all I wanted to do was take Nhan home and be his mother."

Adopting the child became the young woman’s obsession, says her husband Phung Quang Nghinh. "She woke up in the middle of the night dreaming about the boy," he says. But despite the anxieties and extra care adopting Nhan would involve, Mai Anh’s quest to adopt the baby received full support from her family.

"My mother was sceptical at first but after a while she wrote me this note saying: You’ve taken a courageous step forward, remember I’m always behind you,’" Mai Anh says. "With the help of my family, I will try to do my best to give Nhan a new start in life."

Fate, turn thy wheel

But realising her dream hasn’t been simple, as the nature of the injuries Nhan sustained in his early life means he needs extra-special care and a lot of it, Mai Anh says.

The young mother has received a lot of support from Elka Ray, an editor at Heritage Magazine, who has helped Mai Anh get treatment for her adoptive child via sponsors and international organisations who can contribute to his future surgeries and medical care.

"Mai Anh and her husband Nghinh are wonderful people and great parents," Elka says. "Their other two sons are very bright kids who are polite and kind to Thien Nhan, which is amazing as he needs a lot of special care and takes up a lot of the family’s time and energy."

With such a family, Nhan has a good chance for a normal life, Elka says. "That said, it’s vital to find organisations and people who can help with his surgery and medical care," she adds.

Among these organisations is the Vietnam – French Hospital in Hanoi, who have given Nhan free check-ups. Nhan’s case is particularly complicated because of his tender age, says a doctor at the hospital who wants to remain anonymous. "Without the testicles, Nhan’s growth will be greatly affected."

Help wanted

Today little Nhan may not lack love and affection, but his fate still depends on the financial circumstances of his adoptive parents, who face heavy medical bills for surgery and treatment.For more details about the boy, visit the blog: or write to 118 Hang Bac St, Hanoi.

"His treatment will be tailored continuously following the growth of his body. The family need to find specialised doctors with very modern facilities to help him."

At the moment, the infant also receives free check ups and artificial legs at the Vietnamese Training Centre for Orthopaedic Technologists.

Technician at the centre, Tran Thu Nguyet, says although her centre usually only provides free artificial legs to children under 18 years old, Nhan was an exception.

"As long as we get funding, Nhan will receive free check-ups and artificial legs until he’s 18," Nguyet says. Because Nhan is growing very quickly, he will need a new artificial leg every few months.

Nghinh and Mai Anh also recently took baby Nhan to a hospital in Thailand for check-ups and tests, which are being sent for analysis in the US and Germany.

But whatever the results, the infant can look forward to a future a world apart from his tragic past, and rest assured his new parents will do all it takes to make his life better.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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