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: