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.
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?”