Monday, November 24, 2008

Cam On Singapore!

Thien Nhan's most devoted supporter, Singaporean comic CC Lee, keeps coming through for the tot. In the last month alone, CC Lee -- creator of the Singapore Straits Times comic strip "Chew On It!" -- has raised US$5,641 from his readers and colleagues in Singapore, and added another $369 of his own money, for donations totalling US$6,010 for Thien Nhan! Check out CC Lee's artwork at

Largely thanks to Singaporeans' generosity, we are nearing the US$70,000 mark for donations -- almost half way to our goal. Cam on CC Lee and Singapore!

Baseball Star

Thanks to Quang Huy for sending words of encouragement to Thien Nhan and his family, along with this truly inspiring video of a little American boy with one leg playing baseball. The clip is brief and adorable -- really worth checking out:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hot Sellers

This past Saturday, the Bubbafish/Help Thien Nhan booth at Saigon's Mekong Merchant Craft Fair sold over 120 soft toys, raising VND1.5 million for Thien Nhan and giving away hundreds of flyers about his case.

Many thanks to our wonderful Protec volunteers Ms. Diem and Mr. Nam for helping to staff the stall, and to Marga, Hilda and Mekong Merchant for organizing such a busy fair and for providing us with free booth space!

Despite being an extremely hot day -- especially for Elke, whose coming baby is due early January -- the fair was a great family event. Bubbafish's soft toys were a hit, and we raised a lot of publicity for Thien Nhan!

[photo left to right: Ms. Diem & Mr. Nam of Protec & Elke & Co Mai of Bubbafish]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Bad Week for Thien Nhan

Thien Nhan's had a rough time of it lately. A bad case of flu landed him in hospital twice this past week, as excessive coughing led to severe vomitting. After several days of not eating, he lost a lot of weight. "He looks very sad and thin," reports mom, Mai Anh. "He looks like a dried sweet potato."

As if Thien Nhan hadn't seen enough doctors, on Tuesday and Wednesday he had to go in to the Hanoi French Hospital prosthetic clinic to be fitted for a new leg. A short video clip (link below) reveals just how upset he was, screaming and begging his dad to make the doctors stop applying plaster to his stump in order to create a mold. But of course it's for his own good -- all being well, a month from now he'll receive a new prosthetic. Since he's outgrown his current limb he also had to stop by VietCot to get it extended, which meant more time in a hospital environment -- and more tears!

Medical Breakthrough

Thanks to Philip Chu, of Hong Kong, who sent us an article about the world's first-ever whole organ transplant grown from the patient's own stem cells. This innovative procedure offers real hope for Thien Nhan's genital reconstruction and leg in the future.

Professor Martin Birchall, one of the surgeons who implanted a new windpipe in a 30-year-old Spanish woman, said: "This is just the beginning... In 20 years' time the commonest surgical operations will be regenerative procedures to replace organs and tissues damaged by disease with autologous [self-grown] tissues and organs from the laboratory. We are on the verge of a new age in surgical care."Professor Birchall said the technique could initially be extended to growing other hollow organs such as the bowel, bladder and reproductive tract but could later be extended to solid organs.

The new technique of customising organs so that they are indistinguishable from the body's own tissues not only overcomes the problem of rejection but also greatly extends the range of organs and tissues that can be transplanted. Transplant of many body parts, such as limbs, has been restricted by concerns over immunosuppression.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Home, But Not Alone

Hanoi has been in the news a lot recently due to stormy weather and flooding, with parts of the city under several feet of water. All that rain and stagnant water have led to a rise in illnesses, including colds and flus. Thien Nhan, who is badly affected by weather fluctuations, has come down with yet another cold. "He's tough and rarely gets severely ill," reports mom, Mai Anh. "But he had a fever last night and feels miserable." While big brother Little Minh is fine, Mai Anh kept him home from preschool too -- mostly to appease Thien Nhan. "When Nhan saw Minh getting ready to leave he started screaming," says Mai Anh. "He was desperate for Minh to stay home with him."

In other news, Sparrowgirls, a US website that covers adoption stories, has added an account of Thien Nhan's adoption to their site. Check out the site's cute collection of Thien Nhan photos:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas Is Coming...

Bubbafish soft toys were a big hit at last Saturday's Saigon South International School Christmas Craft Fair, with more than 150 of the colorful critters finding new homes. As well as raising VND2 million for Thien Nhan and other needy Vietnamese kids, we also gave away more than 100 flyers about Thien Nhan's cause. Many SSIS' students were fascinated by the tot's story, and eager to help by handing out flyers and buying our handmade toys. Many thanks to SSIS for providing us with a free booth at their fantastic Christmas Fair!

As well as employing deaf and disadvantaged female workers in Hanoi, Bubbafish donates a percentage of sales to Thien Nhan and other needy kids in association with the charity Kids Without Borders. If you're looking for cute Christmas gifts that support a good cause, let Elke know:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Special Guests

Last week, Son Michael Pham of Seattle-based Kids Without Borders (KWB) -- the organization that helped to arrange Thien Nhan's urethral surgery in the USA -- stopped by Thien Nhan's house for a visit. This was the first time that Son Michael had met Thien Nhan's eldest brother, Big Minh, 8, and grandmother.

With Son Michael were four youngsters from the Hoa Phuong Orphanage who are currently studying and working in Hanoi under the support of KWB's "Teach Me To Fish" program. During this trip to Vietnam, Son Michael visited a variety of orphanages and projects aided by KWB in HCM City, Hanoi and Hai Phong. For more information about the great work done by KWB, which is 100% volunteer-run, check out:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something to Sing About!

A TV crew from the Bai Hat Vietnam song-writing contest visited Thien Nhan's family yesterday, to present the tot with a special gift. Composer Jazzy Da Lam's song about Thien Nhan, titled "Incredible Things", took first place in the nationwide contest, and Ms. Da Lam donated her VND5 million prize to Thien Nhan.

An additional VND1 million prize for musical arrangement also went to Thien Nhan. Thank you Ms. Da Lam and everyone who voted for Thien Nhan's special song in the Bai Hat Vietnam contest!