Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

Here's a photo of Thien Nhan (shortest, in center) celebrating Christmas with his preschool classmates.

Sorry for the long blog-silence but Elka, who runs Thien Nhan's English blog, has had vision trouble. Health-wise, this has also been a tough year for Thien Nhan's mum Mai Anh, but the whole family is looking forward to a healthy, happy and succesful 2011!

In just a few weeks Thien Nhan, 4, will be heading to Italy, where he's to undergo reconstructive surgery with one of the world's leading experts in male genital reconstruction. In preparation, Thien Nhan has been getting hormone injections for some months.

Thien Nhan and his family wish all of you a festive Christmas & New Year!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Last week, Thien Nhan and his brother Minh enjoyed a fun party for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Along with kids from their neighborhood, the brothers, aged 4 and 5, watched dragon dancers, sang and participated in a lantern procession. They also ate moon cakes - traditional cakes filled with bean paste, eggs and bacon. In Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival is devoted to children.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back To School

Last Monday, Thien Nhan went back to school following a two-month summer vacation. "In previous years he was very excited to go to school," says the 4-year old's mom, Mai Anh. "But this year he felt very sad. All of the other kids were jumping around and dancing and Thien Nhan just watched them. He is getting older and becoming more aware of his handicaps. It was a hard day for him."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thien Nhan's Mum Is Honored as an Outstanding Citizen

This October, the city of Hanoi will celebrate its 1,000th anniversary. To mark this event, 10 Hanoians have been selected as "Outstanding Hanoi Citizens" -- and one of them is Thien Nhan's devoted mum, Tran Mai Anh.

At just 37 years old, Mai Anh is the youngest in the group. Most of the others are senior citizens and include three historians and researchers; a sports coach; the artist who organized the Hanoi Wall project; a community health worker; a war veteran who's heavily involved in his community; a company director; and a farmer who has helped to improve living conditions in his community.
"I am very touched," said Mai Anh. "I hope that this award will help more people to understand about Thien Nhan and other needy kids, and to help them to overcome their challenges in life."
[Photo shows Tran Mai Anh and her eldest son, Big Minh. Since Thien Nhan was adopted two years ago, Big Minh has been a wonderful source of help for Thien Nhan. He deserves an award too for being an "Outstanding Big Brother".]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Little Minh is in Hospital

As if Thien Nhan's family hasn't been through enough this past fortnight...

The night before last, Thien Nhan's brother and best friend, Little Minh, 4, suffered a seizure and stopped breathing. He was rushed to the 108 Hospital in Hanoi, where doctors managed to revive him.

Tests reveal that Little Minh suffers from epilepsy. "He is stable now but it was very scary," reports mum Mai Anh, who was only released from hospital herself a few days ago (and is supposed to be home in bed, recuperating). "They are doing more tests to work out the cause of the seizure and how to treat him."

Thien Nhan, 4, is staying with his grandparents and his eldest brother, Big Minh, 11. "I want Brother Minh to get better soon and come home," said Thien Nhan. "I miss him a lot."

[photo shows Thien Nhan and Little Minh during better times]

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Get well soon, Mummy!

Thien Nhan's trip to Singapore had to be cancelled because - just days before the planned departure - the tot's mum, Mai Anh, suffered a major brain aneurysm.

Mai Anh was taken to Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, where she underwent coiling - an innovative surgical procedure in which a thin platinum coil is inserted into the brain to plug the aneurysm. It was a very scary time but Mai Anh survived the surgery and is expected to make a full recovery! She is an amazing woman!

When Thien Nhan visited his mum in hospital prior to her surgery, he gave her his favorite toy car. So sweet and thoughtful!

We will reschedule Thien Nhan's trip to Singapore - and his surgery, when Mai Anh is well enough to travel. Get well soon, Mai Anh!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Thien Nhan!

Happy Birthday Thien Nhan!

It's hard to believe but the little guy turns four today! Last night, mum Mai Anh took Thien Nhan to the local supermarket where he chose some candies and little toys to give to his classmates.

This morning, a great party was held for Thien Nhan and his school friends, who enjoyed cake and soft drinks. Tonight, there will be another small celebration at Thien Nhan's home.
We wish this brave little boy the best of luck during his upcoming surgery. Have a fantastic year, Thien Nhan!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Holidays

It's school holidays in Vietnam and Thien Nhan and his brothers are all home, driving their mum crazy!
As the family prepares for Thien Nhan's trip to see medical specialists in Singapore next month, here's a photo to inspire Thien Nhan.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Surgery at NUH Singapore

In late July 2010, Thien Nhan will return to Singapore to undergo reconstructive genital surgery at National University Hospital (NUH). Urologist Dr. Prabhakaran, who is also a professor at National University of Singapore, has kindly offered to waive his fees for this complicated procedure, which will involve the reconstruction of a scrotum and the insertion of prosthetic testicles. The surgery is scheduled for Friday, July 30th.

Many thanks to Pam and Kim Odhner, who have offered Thien Nhan and his "entourage" free use of their home, during their stay! Thien Nhan will recover at their place from August 2nd to 7th.

We are still seeking leads to cheap accomodation (2 rooms) near NUH from July 28th to August 1st -- please email Elka at with any tips!

This surgery is possible due to the tireless efforts and generosity of Singapore Straits Times cartoonist CC Lee - and the many Singaporeans who have contributed towards Thien Nhan's care.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thien Nhan's Trip to Singapore

[Minh and Thien Nhan take their new cars to breakfast; Sol, Thien Nhan, Minh and their robots ride in a taxi ]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thanks again Singapore!

Thien Nhan, his mum and two brothers spent three nights in Singapore, where Thien Nhan had an appointment with Professor Prabhakaran at National University Hospital (NUH). Dr. Prabha was very optimistic about Thien Nhan's case, and advocates doing major genital surgery in Singapore this summer.

Not only did Thien Nhan's check up go well, but he also finally got to meet his "Uncle Lee" -- Singapore Straits Times cartoonist CC Lee, and Mr. Lee's colleagues and fellow cartoonists. Without CC Lee's - and other Singaporeans' generous support - Thien Nhan's past and future surgeries would not be possible.

Special thanks to CC Lee, David and Lina, Adarsh and Ms. Latta, and Stella and May Lian. And thanks to everyone who has donated so generously to this special little boy!

[photo: Minh (in black) and Thien Nhan waiting for Thien Nhan's ultrasound at NUH]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brave Little Soldier

Late Wednesday night, Thien Nhan fell off a chair in his room and hit his knee on a door frame, cutting it deeply. His mum, Mai Anh, used chopsticks, a ruler and some fabric to create a splint, then took Nhan to Viet Duc Hospital's Emergency Ward.
"The doctors all laughed when they saw his splint," reports Mai Anh. The cut required five stitches, which Thien Nhan endured with great bravery, although he did cry for his big brothers.

"When we got home, he stood outside of our front door and yelled: "Brothers! I love you!" reports Mai Anh. "He was like a little soldier who'd come home from the war, he was so grateful to be home and with his brothers again!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chuc mung nam moi!

Chuc mung nam moi! Happy Year of the Tiger!

Thien Nhan and his family enjoyed a happy and relaxing Tet in Hanoi, with the kids spending a lot of time playing with their cousin, watching movies and enjoying family gatherings at Ong & Ba Ngoai's house (maternal grandparents).

This photo shows Little Minh, 4, pushing Thien Nhan, 3, in a stroller, as the pair toured the Museum of Ethnology during their Tet break from preschool.

The kids are now back at school and mum Mai Anh is back at work. The family is also busy planning for Thien Nhan's trip to Singapore in late April, where he will see specialists at National University Hospital. Stay posted for further details!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Letter from Vietnam's President

Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh, received a letter from Vietnam's President commending her for having adopted Thien Nhan, and wishing her family a joyous Lunar New Year. In an official letter, President Nguyen Minh Triet said that Mai Anh is a wonderful example of a Vietnamese mother. Since adopting Thien Nhan three years ago, Mai Anh has worked tirelessly to raise funds for her injured son's care and to find the best medical help possible.

"People sometimes make thoughtless comments and Thien Nhan is now old enough to understand that he is different from other kids," says Mai Anh. "I worry a lot about his future. I am very grateful to those who support and care about him."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bad News

After months of waiting for the results of complicated tests conducted on Thien Nhan's hormone levels in Houston, Texas, we have news -- and it's not good. The tests showed no sign of working testes, which means that Thien Nhan will require lifelong hormone replacement therapy and be unable to father biological children.

While we're disappointed, we remain convinced that Thien Nhan has a bright future ahead of him. He is a very courageous, smart and determined little boy.
Our next step is to find a pediatric endocrinologist, urologist, psychiatrist, and plastic surgeon with experience in genital repair, ideally based in Singapore. If any of you have leads to doctors in these specialties in Singapore, please email Elka at
Thanks and all the best in 2010!