Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thien Nhan Calendars

Thien Nhan 2010 Calendars are now on sale! For just VND60,000 you can see Thien Nhan's handsome face all year round!

In Hanoi, go to: 162 Phuong Liet Street, Hanoi or contact Ms Phuong Thao: 3 868 9568

In HCM City contact Ms. Hai Nam: 0169 55 88888

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bubbas for the Holidays

In time for Christmas, Bubbafish soft toys -- 100% of profits go to Thien Nhan -- are now available at OUT-2 Studio, Fafilm Annex, 6 Thai Van Lung Street, D.1, HCM City, and at Breeze, on the corner of Nha Tho & Nha Chung Streets (in front of the cathedral) in Hanoi.

Bubbafish toys were sold at 3 Christmas fairs in HCMC (SSIS, The Deck & BIS) and 1 in Hanoi (Craftlink), raising more than VND25 million for Thien Nhan. Special thanks to Ms. Jessica and the three lovely Filipinna ladies who helped at Bubbafish's BIS booth on Dec. 5th.

Also thanks to SmartKids Preschool in Thao Dien, HCM City, which supported Thien Nhan by buying gifts for their smallest students from Bubbafish.

Still Waiting...

We are still waiting for news of the results of Thien Nhan's medical tests, which were performed in the US way back in late September in a bid to determine whether or not he has functioning testes.

Due to patient confidendiality laws, the hospital cannot answer queries by phone, and reports that the results are "in the mail"...

We're increasingly anxious and hoping for good news in time for Christmas!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bubbafish Loves Thien Nhan

Bubbafish Toys attended the SSIS and Deck Christmas Bazaars in HCM City to sell handmade soft toys in aid of Thien Nhan. All profits from Bubbafish go to support Thien Nhan's medical care and education.

At these two events, Bubbafish raised VND15 million for Nhan! Handmade from original designs, Bubbafish's cute, cuddly toys cost just VND130,000 a piece at these fairs.

Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers: Hai, Thien, Chau Anh, Duc and Ali.

For those of you in HCM City who haven't picked up any Bubbafish toys, they'll be on sale at the British International School Bazaar on December 5th. This event runs from 9am to 2pm at British International School, 246 Nguyen Van Huong St., District 2.
Bubbafish is looking for outlets in Vietnam and abroad to sell its lovable toys. If you know of any shops that would like to carry these popular toys that support a great cause, please email Elke at

Songs for Thien Nhan

German-Vietnamese singer and songwriter Jazzy Da Lam organized a benefit concert in Munich, Germany in aid of Thien Nhan and poor elderly folks at a care facility in Tuy Hoa, Song Cau, Phu Yen. More than 90 people attended this event, which raised $1,000 for Thien Nhan and $500 for the elderly.

Jazzy Da Lam is the writer of a song about Thien Nhan that won first prize in a national song contest in Vietnam in 2008.

"Dankeschon" to Jazzy and the other musicians who staged this great event, and to all those who attended!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Looking for Legs...

Check out these photos that we were sent! What a little champion! If any of you have information on this little boy's prosthetic limbs, or limbs suitable for small kids with short stumps, please let us know. Thien Nhan has been having a lot of trouble with his prosthetic leg, which is heavy and falls off constantly. We are desperate to find him a better-fitting alternative. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There Were Four In The Bed...

Just when Thien Nhan and his two big brothers were all finally free of the flu, their mom, Mai Anh, fainted and hit her head. She ended up in hospital where CAT scans revealed that she'd suffered swelling of the brain. Luckily, with rest, she will recover! The family deserves a "frequent customer discount card" at the local hospital, of the type handed out in coffee shops...

Ordered to rest in bed, where she's hooked up to an IV, Mai Anh has had good company. Check out this adorable picture of the three boys, sleeping like angels!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Get Well Soon!

Talk about a rough month! A couple of days after getting back to Hanoi, Thien Nhan caught the flu from his big brother, Little Minh, who'd been bedridden for some days already.

"Thien Nhan had a high fever for three nights," reports the kids' mom, Mai Anh. "He was very well behaved even though he was sick. He didn't make a fuss and he took all his medicine."

Unfortunately, due to his high fever, he wound up in the local hospital, where he was given fluids via an IV (photo).

Get well soon, Thien Nhan!

The family is still waiting for the results of Thien Nhan's hormone tests, done during his recent trip to Texas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Houston Zoo

The day before Thien Nhan left Texas, a group of his supporters took him to the Houston Zoo. "Thien Nhan was really excited to see so many animals," said his grandma, Kim Anh. "He had an excellent day."

Having spent three weeks in Houston undergoing medical tests, Thien Nhan, 3, is now in the middle of a 30-plus-hour flight back to Hanoi. "He will arrive tomorrow," said his mom, Mai Anh. "Both of his brothers had the flu but are feeling better now. They are looking forward to seeing him and I know that he will be very happy to be home too."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Waiting for Results

In this photo Thien Nhan, 3, is comforted by his dad as he receives the last in a series of injections that he needed in order to test his hormone levels.

"The shots really hurt. He was so brave but he could not stop crying," reported the toddler's dad, Nghinh. "I felt terrible but there was nothing that anyone could do to help him. He just had to go through it."

Having been in Houston, Texas for the past three weeks, Thien Nhan will fly back to Vietnam tomorrow.

The results of the hormone testing should be available in some days. If the tests indicate that Thien Nhan's undescended testicles are producing testosterone, he will return to Houston for major surgery in early 2010.

"He is very eager to go home," said his dad. "He misses home and especially his big brothers."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water Fun

While much of Thien Nhan's stay in Houston has been spent in hospital, the tot has managed to have some fun too. Here's a picture of the little guy during an outing to a local water park.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Help in Houston

Many thanks to Kids Without Borders' volunteer Susan for helping to make Thien Nhan's stay in Houston easier and more enjoyable. Susan and her sister have helped the family with transportation, dinners, etc. Yesterday, a friend of Susan's drove Nhan to his doctor's appointment.

Here's a picture of Susan, Thien Nhan and Susan's friend, Vu. Cam on!
To learn more about the Seattle-based volunteer-run Kids Without Borders go to

Extended Family

Since Thien Nhan's mom, Mai Anh, had to return to work, she flew back to Hanoi last weekend. Unfortunately, upon arrival she learned that one of her other two sons, Little Minh, 4, was running a fever. "It was a 39-hour trip and Minh's fever was 39 degrees," said Mai Anh. "So I got home and was up all night."

Thien Nhan's dad, Nghinh, then flew from Hanoi to Houston to "take over". Luckily for Thien Nhan his wonderful grandma, the acclaimed poet Kim Anh, will remain in the States for Thien Nhan's entire stay.

On Monday, Thien Nhan had his first appointment with Dr. Karaviti, who is administering a complicated test to determine whether or not the boy's testes are viable. Thien Nhan received his first HCG shot. He will receive two additional shots this Wednesday and Friday and have a blood test on Saturday. The results should be available in one week.
[Photo shows Thien Nhan, in red, drawing with friends and his grandma, Kim Anh]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Difficult Process

Thien Nhan, 3, is now in Houston, Texas waiting to begin a 2-week-long process to test his hormone levels. "The test is very complicated and uncommon," explains the tot's mom, Mai Anh. "It involves injecting a vaccine that we must get from another state. So the vaccine is from one state, the test is performed in Texas and then the results must be read in another state."

Unfortunately, the injections are painful and must be administered daily for 2 weeks. "This is the only way to know for sure whether or not his testes are producing testosterone," says Mr. Greig Craft, the American philanthropist who arranged Thien Nhan's treatment in Texas. "If they are, he will need major surgery to retrieve them and place them in a reconstructed scrotum. This would happen early next year."

For the last 2 days, Thien Nhan has been complaining of stomach pains and rushing to the potty a lot. "He hasn't eaten anything unusual so I think it's stress," says Mai Anh. "He is homesick and nervous. This is a lot for a 3-year-old to understand. He is tired."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Homesick in Houston

Having been in Houston for more than a week, Thien Nhan is homesick. "Me oi, I want to go home and play with my brothers," Nhan told his mother, Mai Anh, speaking about his brothers Big Minh, 10, and Little Minh, 4.

"All day long he begs me to phone home," says Mai Anh. "He misses home and especially his big brothers."
[Photo shows Thien Nhan (on stool) with his brothers and cousin, back in Hanoi.]

Saturday, October 3, 2009

5-Year Plan

After examining Thien Nhan, urologists and plastic surgeons in Texas are optimistic that the reconstruction of a functioning penis can begin in just 5 1/2 years, when Thien Nhan is 9. The reconstruction should be made easier thanks to the fact that a portion of the boy's penis (now tucked under the skin) remains intact.

"Nhan just wants to be like his big brothers and the other boys in his class," says the toddler's mom, Mai Anh. "The older he gets, the harder it will be for him emotionally. We are very happy that these doctors are able to help him."
[Photo: Thien Nhan undergoing a pelvic exam at Texas Children's Hospital while his mom comforts him.]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anxious for Help

Before Thien Nhan went to bed, his mom, Mai Anh, explained that he'd be going to hospital the next day to meet doctors who would help to fix his "willy".

"The doctor's appointment wasn't until noon but Thien Nhan woke up very early and started asking if it was time to go see the doctor yet," reports Mai Anh. "I felt sad for him but proud of him too. He is so smart and brave for a three-year-old."

To see a brief video of one of Thien Nhan's exam at Texas Children's Hospital, go to:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Report from Houston

Since hearing of Thien Nhan's plight some years ago, Hanoi-based philanthropist Greig Craft has worked tirelessly to raise funds and find surgeons willing to take on this challenging case. Making time in his very busy schedule as the head of an injury prevention foundation, Mr. Craft has accompanied Thien Nhan, his mom and grandma to Houston, Texas, from where he sent this report:

A medical team at Texas Children's Hospital led by Dr. Lars J. Cisek, a pediatric urologist and Thien Nhan's coordinating physician Dr.Tue Dinh, a noted plastic surgeon, conducted a detailed exam of Thien Nhan's pelvic area. Dr. Cisek's initial assessment is that what doctors in Thailand and Vietnam believed to be testes may in fact only be internal scar tissue from the original trauma. If true, surgeons can still enable Thien Nhan to become a fully functioning male, although he would be unable to father biological children.

To determine the existence and viablity of the boy's testes, a series of injections will be given to Thien Nhan in the US over the next 14 days, followed by chemical analysis of his blood. This is a painful but essential process for Thien Nhan.

If the outcome is positive, the surgeons will conduct a Laparoscopy (inserting a tiny camera under anasthesia) to locate the testes. Internal scar tissue could make this a complicated procedure. Assuming that the testes are successfully located, major surgery would be needed to extract them. Dr. Tue would operate on the groin area, create a new scrotum from skin tissue, and relocate the testes. If the testes are not functional, hormone therapy will be the solution.

We'll know more in coming days, and will keep you posted as soon we learn more. Thanks for your ongoing support and love.

[Photo: Greig Craft carries Thien Nhan in the hospital]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Testing, Testing

Yesterday and today, Thien Nhan underwent various tests and exams in Houston to determine the extent of the damage to his genitals. "I think we have found the right doctors here," reports the toddler's mom, Mai Anh. "Dr. Tue Tinh is very kind and genuine. All of the doctors answer our concerns very clearly and logically."

Unfortunately, preliminary tests suggest that Thien Nhan's undescended testicles are unlikely to be viable. This would be a major blow. If the boy's testicles no longer produce testosterone, he will require hormone replacement therapy for the rest of his life, and be unable to father biological children. More tests will be performed this week. "We just have to wait and see," says Mai Anh.
[Photo, left to right: Thien Nhan's grandma, the poet Mrs. Kim Anh; surgeon Dr. Tue Tinh; Mr. Son Michael Pham of Kids Without Borders; Thien Nhan; mom, writer Mrs. Mai Anh; trip organizers Ms. Na Huong and Mr. Greig Craft.]

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Good Boy

"Thien Nhan hardly slept at all on the plane," says the toddler's mom, Mai Anh, speaking about their 36-hour trip from Hanoi to Houston.

"He is exhausted and jet-lagged but has been very well-behaved. I think he understands that we are here to help him. He is worried about the hospital but is trying his best to be a good and brave boy."

To view a video about little Nhan's visit to Houston, go to

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome to Houston!

Want to welcome Thien Nhan to Houston? The local community and Seattle-based non-profit group Kids Without Borders will host a welcome party for the boy on Sunday September 27th at a Galleria Hotel from 2pm to 6pm.

For more information, please contact If you would like to contribute to cover expenses for Thien Nhan’s surgeries, make online donation from KWB's website and enter Miracle Baby in ‘designation’.

To view a video of little Nhan's arrival in Houston, go to:

Thien Nhan's In Texas!

Thien Nhan, 3, has arrived in Houston, Texas, where he is to undergo the next stage of surgery to repair his genitals.

"We are exhausted following a 36-hour trip," reports his mom, Mai Anh. "We will rest up before meeting Dr. Tue Tinh. Next week Thien Nhan will undergo tests in preparation for his surgery."

Dr. Tinh, a plastic surgeon who specializes in genital reconstruction, has volunteered to work on the toddler free of charge. Fundraising activities are ongoing to pay for associated costs (hospital fees, anaesthetist, medication, etc). This is the second of an estimated four or five surgeries that Thien Nhan will require to rebuild his genitals.

The photo shows Thien Nhan resting at a stop-over in Narita. Check out a video of the tot on his trip from Hanoi to Houston at:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scans & Tests

Two days ago, Thien Nhan underwent US$3,000 worth of CAT scans and tests at the Viet Xo Hospital in Hanoi. These scans were then forwarded to Dr. Tue in Houston, Texas, who will review them to plan for Thien Nhan's upcoming genital surgery.

While Thien Nhan, 3, was put under full anaesthesia for the CAT scan, he was awake for some other scans and tests. "The doctor told him that he could scream as loudly as he liked but he could not move," recalls his mom, Mai Anh. "It was amazing but that was exactly what he did. He lay as still as if he had been glued to the table but cried a bit, since it hurt." She goes on to say: "I felt so sorry for him. He looked so small lying on the examination table and then even smaller when he went into the big CAT scan machine."
After studying the film, the Hanoi doctors are hopeful that one of Thien Nhan's undescended testicles might prove viable. Since Thien Nhan suffered major genital damage when he was attacked by wild animals shortly after being abandoned at birth, this would be great news. The US doctors will review the scans later this week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Leg Up

This week, Thien Nhan, now 3, went in get his prosthetic leg refitted. He is receiving free prosthetic care from Coeur de Bambou, a French non-profit group with a prosthetic lab located next to the Hanoi French Hospital.

"Since his leg stump is so short, it is very hard to get the fake leg to fit right," says Thien Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. "It falls off a lot and is not very stable. He can only use it if he is leaning on his frame walker."

Each day, Thien Nhan must spend several hours practicing with his prosthetic limb and walker. "He can move much faster without it," says Mai Anh. "But he knows that he has to practice. It is very hard for him."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quality Control

Little Minh (left) and Thien Nhan are in charge of Quality Control Testing at Bubbafish, the little toy business owned by their mom, Mai Anh, and their Aunt Elka.

Here the kids are testing a zebra and a dog -- new samples for the Christmas season. Bubbafish gives a big chunk of sales to Thien Nhan's surgical costs. If you know of any retailers or distributors that might be interested in selling these handmade plush toys in the run-up to Christmas, email Elka for product info at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beach Baby

Last week, Thien Nhan and his two big brothers went to the beach in Hoi An for a summer holiday. Unfortunately for Thien Nhan (and his mom, Mai Anh), the tot came down with a fever and spent the first three days in the hotel room! Luckily he recovered in time to enjoy the last days of their holiday and had a great time playing on the beach.

Thien Nhan's swimming experiences were less successful, reports Mai Anh. "We put him in a giant life vest," she explains. "But his missing leg left him unbalanced so he rolled around and around in the water!"
To see more photos of Thien Nhan at the beach go to

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prepping for Round 2 of Surgery

We are hoping that Thien Nhan, now 3, will go to the United States this fall for major genital surgery. Details are still being worked out, but Dr. Tue Dinh, a renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Houston, Texas has agreed to oversee the procedures. Dr. Tue specializes in genital reconstruction.

Thien Nhan's surgery would likely involve extracting the remaining third of his penis, which is currently covered by skin; creating a scrotum; and moving the undescended testes into the newly-built scrotal sack. While the viability of Thien Nhan's undescended testes remains unknown, the longer that these organs remain tucked inside his body, the higher the chance of damage.

These procedures are extremely complex, and Dr. Tue has set the estimated cost for this round of surgery at US$100,000. That's a lot of money! While enough money has been raised to cover this round, repairing the terrible genital damage that Thien Nhan suffered when he was abandonned at birth and mauled by wild animals will require several additional surgeries.
Like Thien Nhan's trip to the US for urethral surgery last fall, this journey will be organized by Hanoi-based philanthropist Greig Craft and Seattle-based Son Michael Pham of Kids Without Borders.
Please keep following Thien Nhan's progress and helping this brave little boy in his fight for recovery!

Help for Manh

Some months ago, we posted a note on Thien Nhan's blog about another little Vietnamese boy named Le Duc Manh who needs help, as he had suffered disfiguring burns as a result of domestic violence. Thanks to reader Ngoc Nga Dang, of Canada, for her offer to help little Manh. As Ms. Nga wrote: "I cannot stand to see another being in pain. My help may not be much, but little drops of water will amount to a river, right?"

We couldn't agree more! If you're able to help Manh or other desperately sick or injured kids in Vietnam, please contact Sam at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Birthday Boy!

Thien Nhan joined his brothers, mom Mai Anh and aunt Elka for pizza to celebrate his third birthday. While Thien Nhan loved the spicy sausage pizza, his brother Big Minh, 9, preferred the veggie spaghetti -- he managed to eat almost two plates full! Thien Nhan, meanwhile, ate his dinner with a knife and fork. He is very grown up now!

After dinner, Nhan jumped around the restaurant on one foot, amazing diners and staff with his balance, agility and energy.

Singaporean cartoonist CC Lee-- -- who has to date raised and donated around US$50,000 towards Thien Nhan's surgery and rehab -- sent in an additional US$1,700 on the tot's birthday-- $1,501 donated from his readers and colleagues and $199 from his own pocket. Thank you CC Lee and thank you Singapore

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Thien Nhan!

Congratulations to Thien Nhan, who turned 3 today!

To prepare for his special day, the tot got a new haircut, then celebrated with his family.

Having been abandoned at birth and badly mauled by wild animals, Thien Nhan has overcome the odds to become the high-spirited, smart and adventurous little boy that he is today. Happy Birthday Nhan!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Happy Visit

Some days ago, Thien Nhan and his family got a visit from their great friend Son Michael Pham of Seattle-based Kids Without Borders. This 100% volunteer-run charity supports a range of programs that aid needy kids in Vietnam, including the Go Vap orphanage in Saigon.

"It was great to see Son Michael," said Mai Anh. "The kids always remember him."

Along with Hanoi-based philanthropist Greig Craft, Son Michael Pham was instrumental in arranging Thien Nhan's urethral surgery in the USA last August. He even accompanied the family on part of their trip.

Plans are currently being put in place for Thien Nhan's second (and more extensive) genital surgery, expected to take place this autumn in the USA. Surgeons will attempt to reconstruct a scrotum, bring down Thien Nhan's undescended testicles, and extract his penis, which is now hidden beneath his skin.

Son Michael reported that Thien Nhan was very well. "He can move so quickly on one leg and has amazing balance," he said. "He is incredibly strong."
To view more photos from Son Michael's July 2009 mission to Vietnam go to:

[Photo: Thien Nhan (up), Nghinh, Little Minh, Big Minh, Mai Anh, Son Michael]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Bug

While winter is typically the "flu season", a nasty flu is going around in Vietnam. Poor Thien Nhan has been ill for three days now, with a cough and a fever. So far, his older brothers are fine, as are Mum and Dad.

"It's summer holidays, so that's an extra miserable time to be sick!" says the boys' mum, Mai Anh. Before this little setback, Thien Nhan had been enjoying a great summer, getting up to lots of mischief with his brothers. Here's a photo of the three of them getting cleaned up after a day spent playing.
[Photo, left to right: Little Minh, Thien Nhan, Big Minh]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hot & Bothered

It's summer and Thien Nhan and his brothers are home from school. Unfortunately, it's more than 40 degrees Celsius in Hanoi today -- and expected to get hotter over the weekend!

"The kids are very noisy and naughty being inside all day. It is too hot to go out," reports mom, Mai Anh.

Even when the temperature drops enough to turn off the aircon, Mai Anh has taken to keeping the front door closed. "There's a small outdoor market across the street, and Thien Nhan stands in the doorway behind our metal gate and begs the vendors to bring him fruit," she reports. "I have to close the door to stop him from begging for snacks and sweets! He looks very cute so all of the vendor women spoil him!"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Charitable Request

Hi all,

I've just been informed that the family of Cuong, the little boy who died of a facial tumor, has received a donation of over US$4,000 -- from the readers of Dang Tri Newspaper and other Vietnamese and overseas sources.

This is enough to pay off their medical debts and buy a new cultivator. No further fundraising is needed to get this poor family back on track.

Thanks everyone!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Trouble

In Vietnam, the school term just ended and kids are starting summer holidays. Although Thien Nhan isn't even 3 (his birthday is July 15th) he got an end-of-year report. At his parent-teacher interview, Nhan's preschool teacher reported that the tot "can't sit still."

"The teacher recommended that he work with his hands as he is very skillful at taking things apart and putting them back together again," says Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. The teacher went on to complain that, whenever groups of important visitors (like school inspectors) stop by, Thien Nhan makes a gun out of lego and pretends to shoot them.

"She said that none of the other kids know how to make lego guns," said Mai Anh. Since firearm toys are illegal in Vietnam, Thien Nhan's design skills weren't appreciated!
[The photo shows Thien Nhan (far left) with his brothers Big Minh and Little Minh]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Preparing for Round Two of Surgery

The recent discovery that Thien Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, has two undescended testicles has lent new urgency to his situation. If left inside the body for too long, his testicles may become damaged. Most infants born with this condition undergo corrective surgery within their first year.

When Thien Nhan was attacked by wild animals at birth, he suffered so much genital damage that doctors were unaware that his testicles remained inside his body. "That he still has his testicles is another miracle," says the boy's mom, Mai Anh. "We hope that this will enable him to forego hormone replacement drugs, and even to father children one day."

Spurred by this stunning discovery, Seattle-based charity Kids Without Borders and American philanthropist Greig Craft are working hard to arrange for Thien Nhan's next surgery. His first genital surgery took place at Dartmouth, NH in the USA last August.

All being well, this autumn surgeons will construct a scrotum from Thien Nhan's own skin, bring down his testicles, further dilate his urethra, and extract the one third of his penis that is now tucked up inside his skin. This is major and highly specialized urethral and plastic surgery. The expenses and logistics are considerable.

Ongoing fundraising efforts are being led by Kids Without Borders and the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, which is founded and managed by Greig Craft. For more information, please visit or

To date, much of the financial help received by Thien Nhan has hailed from Singapore, largely thanks to the heroic efforts of Singapore Straits Times cartoonist Lee Chee Chew, who has raised more than US$50,000 for the tot. To see Mr. Lee's artwork and donor list, please visit:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life Lessons

These days, Thien Nhan is very talkative. His mom, Mai Anh, reports that Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, "chats constantly". A very bright and inquisitive little boy, he is currently obsessed with dinosaurs (see his favorite shirt!)

Most afternoons, Thien Nhan and his brothers go to a nearby park to get some fresh air and exercise. Passerby often stop to make a fuss of little Nhan, who is something of a celebrity in Vietnam. Mai Anh worries that all of the attention will go to the tot's head. "Of course I want him to feel confident," she says. "But I also want to be sure he is not spoiled!"

Although her kids are still small, Mai Anh is determined to teach them about helping others. "I hope that Thien Nhan will grow up and do good things for others in the same way that people have joined to help him now," she says.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Help for Little Manh

On April 22nd we posted a brief report about Manh, a little Vietnamese boy who had endured years of domestic violence, then been terribly burned when his drunken dad set the family home on fire, killing himself and Manh's mother.

Sam, a Canadian-based aid worker involved with aiding little Manh, just sent the following note:

Thanks to the posting about Manh on the Thien Nhan blog, I've just got Ms Kelly Song's offer to help with his education. She is a Korean woman who lives in Singapore. Isn't that fantastic? Manh has just had his operation a few weeks ago at Hue Central Hospital with help from the US New-Yok based Tran Tien Foundation of Dr Sung Tran. Manh is such a courageous boy. Chi Minh Minh of Les Amis De Hue has been walking with Manh and connected him to Tran Tien Foundation.

Thank you Ms. Song! Anyone else who wishes to know more about Manh, please visit If you are willing to help this brave little boy, please email Sam at

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stair Master

Last weekend, Thien Nhan's family moved into a new house down a small alley near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake. Nhan's mom, Mai Anh, was worried that Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, would have trouble negotiating the steep, narrow stairs, as this house stands 3 storeys tall. "Within a day he could race to the top," she reports. "I caught him standing at the top of the stairs and daring his brother [Little Minh] to push him down! He isn't scared of anything!"

Once they were settled into their new home, Mai Anh took the three kids to the circus. Thien Nhan watched the acrobats for some minutes, then turned to his mom and said: "They're boring! I can jump, fall and roll so much better than that!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Growing Up!

Check out this adorable video - - in which Thien Nhan recites a popular Vietnamese kids' poem about a little creeper vine.

Thien Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, has memorized the entire, long poem, which tells the story of a little potted creeper that sits indoors on a windowsill. Determined to feel the sun and the breeze on its leaves, the little creeper stretches itself out the window and climbs the wall of the house, braving the wind and rain.
Thien Nhan learned this verse at preschool. "He loves to sing too," says his mom, Mai Anh. "Nhan and Little Minh [Thien Nhan's brother, 4] rarely stop chattering."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Help for Little Manh?

We recently heard about another little Vietnamese boy in need of financial and surgical help. Four years ago, at the age of 5, Manh suffered burns over 40% of his body when his parents set the family home on fire in a suicide attempt. There was a history of domestic violence. Manh lost both parents and was left with severe scarring on his face, arms and legs. His hands were so badly burned that he could not hold a spoon or a pen.

With support from his community, Manh is now living with his impoverished grandparents in a small village near Hanoi. A polite, mature and intelligent boy, he is at the top of his class at school. Every day, rain or shine, he makes the difficult two-mile walk to class. Last month, a local private charity arranged for Manh to undergo hand surgery at Hue Central Hospital. The operation has enabled him to use one hand normally. Manh dreams of growing up to become a doctor in order to care for other burn victims.

For more information on little Manh, please visit If you have leads to plastic surgeons or organizations or individuals willing to aid this brave little boy, please email Sam at


Thien Nhan's "good" leg is now incredibly strong, reports the tot's mom, Mai Anh. "He can cover a lot of distance by hopping," she says. "He is very strong and hops around the whole house. He especially loves to jump and do somersaults."

A favorite trick involves jumping off a high desk, landing on "all-threes" and rolling across the room -- a move that scares poor Mai Anh half to death. "I told him that if he didn't stop horsing around like that he'd end up hurting his other leg too," she says. "The next time he did it I said, 'Nhan, what could happen if you're too naughty?'" and he said: 'My other leg could fall off too!'"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Once again, Thien Nhan has proven that he deserves the title of “Miracle Baby”. While it was believed that the tot's testicles had been severed in a wild animal attack that destroyed much of his penis and severed his right leg, recent tests performed by Thai specialists at Bangkok’s Medic Complex revealed that the toddler, who is almost 3, has retained two undescended testicles.

This condition, in which the testicles are tucked up inside the body, exists in only about 3-4 percent of male babies at birth. Had Thien Nhan’s testicles descended normally, he would have lost them during the mauling.

“When we found out that he still had his testicles we could hardly believe it. We all cried a lot,” says Thien Nhan’s mom, Mai Anh. “It was like God knew ahead of time that he would be bitten by wild animals and hid them inside his body.”

Despite the good news, various doctors have advised the family to consider gender reassignment. While plastic surgeons can create a penis that looks normal, they warn that the reconstructed organ will have 90 percent less sensation than normal. “We cannot accept turning him into a girl,” says Mai Anh. “Thien Nhan’s character and way of thinking and behaving are very obviously male. If we changed him into a female and then found that in 20 years he couldn’t accept it, we would all feel terrible.”

Next month, the tot will return to Bangkok for more tests in preparation for surgery to create a scrotum and bring down his testicles. “We hope that if we can raise enough money and gain the support of pioneering doctors, Thien Nhan will one day become a fully functioning man,” says his mom. “Medical techniques keep improving with new research in tissue regeneration and organ transplants. He has defied the odds so far so why not continue to hope for the best?”

Many thanks to Greig Craft for organizing and supporting Thien Nhan's latest medical mission; to Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon and the team of experts at Bangkok Medic Complex who examined Thien Nhan; the Sofitel Bangkok Hotel for granting the family 2 free nights' stay and the use of the hotel's van; and Singaporean cartoonist and fundraiser extraordinaire CC Lee for funding travel costs via his personal donations.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bound for Bangkok!

Tomorrow, Thien Nhan and his family will travel to Bangkok, along with Hanoi-based philanthropist Greig Craft. Mr. Craft, who helped organize Nhan's surgery in the US last August, has arranged for the tot to be examined by six leading Thai specialists. "Thailand is internationally recognized as having amongst the best medical care in the region, especially for genital reconstructive surgery," says Mr. Craft. "Thanks to a dedicated group of physicians in Bangkok, Thien Nhan can now look forward to the next level of necessary medical care as he enters childhood. Six physicians have agreed to perform an initial diagnostic exam for free, and will determine a thorough course of action for young Thien Nhan.”

Led by internationally renowned surgeon Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon M.D, along with a physician specializing in Prosthetics, a Psychologist, an Endocrinologist and a Pediatrician from the Bangkok Mediplex, the six doctors will carry out a two-day intensive examination starting Thursday 9th April.

Along with the free medical services of Bangkok Medic Complex, the Sofitel Hotel of Bangkok has offered the family free lodgings during their Thailand stay. Well-known Singaporean Lee Chee Chew has led a major fundraising effort, and made personal contributions, to cover travel costs for the family.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Getting Around

Check out this latest video of Thien Nhan at
While Nhan is still trying to get the hang of his new prosthetic leg, he is a very active little boy who can cover a lot of ground by crawling and hopping.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Welcome Visitors!

Thien Nhan is excited about seeing his good friends Son Michael and Judy Pham of Seattle-based Kids Without Borders. The pair arrived in Hanoi today on a cross-country "Humanitour" visiting local charities and orphanages, like the one in this photo.

Last August, Mr. and Mrs. Pham accompanied Thien Nhan on his trip to the US for surgery. Thien Nhan is just one of many sick, orphaned and disadvantaged kids that this wonderful couple are helping via their 100% volunteer-run organization.
Check out the new design of their website at:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sick Days

Over the weekend Thien Nhan came down with a fever and cough, which he then passed to his brother, Little Minh, aged 4. While Nhan now seems better, last night Minh's fever rose to a scary 40 degrees. "They take turns being sick," said their exhausted mum, Mai Anh. Meanwhile the kids' cousin, Sol, almost 2, has been hospitalized with pneumonia. Luckily Thien Nhan's eldest brother, Big Minh, 8, seems to have missed this round.

Changeable temperatures and high humidity make early spring a prime time for flus in Hanoi, and many kids from Nhan and Minh's preschool are home sick right now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Singaporean Generosity

On January 3rd, the Singapore Straits Times ran a follow-up story by Judith Tan about Thien Nhan and the amazing help that the tot has received from Straits Times cartoonist Lee Chee Chew, whose blog "Chew On It!", is devoted to raising funds for little Nhan.

Since the story ran, Mr. Lee - who's never even met Thien Nhan - has raised another US$31,013 from readers, fans, colleagues (and out of his own pocket). The comic artist also donates all proceeds from the sales of his first two books towards Thien Nhan's rehab. To date, Mr. Lee has raised a whopping US$51,292. Thank you Singapore!
The SST story and Mr. Lee's blog may be found at: ttp://
To view the list of donors who have supported Thien Nhan via Mr. Lee, please scroll to the bottom of this blog. Our thanks to all of you!

Helping Mum Out

Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh, suffers from rheumatism and had terrible shoulder and back pain for much of last week. Her three sons were a big source of comfort, with Thien Nhan - who will turn 3 in July - making a special effort to cheer up his ailing mum. "Thien Nhan climbed into bed and hugged me," reported Mai Anh. "And Little Minh brought me snacks."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Great Big Brother

Thien Nhan's big brother, Big Minh, 8, is in charge of updating the "Education" section on Thien Nhan's Vietnamese-language website: Each day after school Minh rewrites some of Thien Nhan's preschool teachers' comments and posts them online. A recent example reads: "Thien Nhan learned the poem "Lotus Flower". He also stuck flowers onto a card to make a Women's Day gift for his mom."

*Photo, left to right: Big Minh, Thien Nhan & Little Minh

Monday, March 9, 2009

Terrible Twos?

Thien Nhan, who will turn three this July, misbehaved at school last week, earning reprimands from his teachers every day last week. In the worst incident he refused to stop chattering with his "girlfriend", classmate Bao Linh, during nap time. When told to keep quiet Thien Nhan kicked the teacher (with his good leg). "His brothers, dad and I spent all weekend explaining why he must not behave like this," said mom Mai Anh. "Nhan had to go and apologize to his teacher today."