Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good news

After about eight hours in surgery, Thien Nhan, 4, is recovering well. The surgeons are confident that the procedure to insert prosthetic testicles, extract the child's penis from beneath a covering of skin, and extend it was a success.

"His penis will be normal size for his age and look normal in about three months," said Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh. "It should be able to grow with him and have sensation."

Obviously, it had been a long day for Mai Anh, who was very relieved that the surgery was a success. Speaking at around midnight last night (Vietnam time), she said: "Thien Nhan is still groggy. When he woke up from the surgery his eyes were full of tears. He saw me there and he said: 'I didn't cry, Mummy. It doesn't hurt so don't worry. 'Since then, he's woken up a few more times and told me that he didn't cry."

Thien Nhan must remain in hospital in Bologne Italy for another two to three weeks, to recover from this major procedure.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Off to the OR

Thien Nhan will be wheeled into the operating room in 30 minutes' time. "I couldn't sleep last night," admits Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh. "But Thien Nhan is okay.

Last night, before going to bed, Thien Nhan met the doctors. "He asked them if they would cut his body from the neck down and whether or not there would be a lot of blood," reports Mai Anh. "When they told him that the incision would be small, he felt much better. He woke up at 5.45am and the first thing that he did this morning was to reconfirm that the incision would be small."

The surgery to insert prosthetic testicles and reconstruct Thien Nhan's penis is expected to take around eight hours.
[Photo shows Thien Nhan, 4, and his brother, Big Minh, in the hospital waiting room.]

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yesterday, Thien Nhan underwent four hours of medical tests and was declared healthy enough to undergo surgery tomorrow. The operation will start at 2pm Vietnam-time on Saturday January 29th. The surgery is expected to take around eight hours.

"Today we will rest around the hotel," says Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh, who admits that waiting is tough.

"Thien Nhan knows that the operation will hurt and be bloody," says Mai Anh. "But he told his brother Big Minh that he isn't scared. He said that everything will be fine and he'll have a penis like his other brother Little Minh's."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When Thien Nhan, his mum and brother arrived at their hotel in Bologne in the middle of the night, there was nothing to eat. "Go to sleep now and we'll eat in the morning," said Thien Nhan's mum, Mai Anh.

Unfortunately, in the morning Mai Anh learned that Thien Nhan wasn't allowed to eat until after he'd had some medical tests.

"Mum, I'm so hungry," said Thien Nhan.

"I know love," said Mai Anh. "I'm so sorry but you must wait. I'm hungry too."

"So why don't you have some bread?" said Thien Nhan.

"No," said Mai Anh. "When you can eat, I'll eat too."

"You should have some bread."

"But you're not allowed to eat yet."

"Go on, Mum. Eat something now. I'll eat after I've had my check up," said Thien Nhan.

Mai Anh was so proud of her brave little boy, and so touched by his concern for her.

[Photo shows a tired and hungry Thien Nhan waiting to see specialists.]

At the Hospital

After a long trip, Thien Nhan arrived safely in Bologne, Italy. "He was a good boy on the flight and ate and slept well," says his mum, Mai Anh. "We are all tired but happy to be here."

This morning, Thien Nhan will see doctors for a pre-surgery consultation. The surgeon needs to be sure that he is healthy enough to withstand such a lengthy and difficult operation.

Bon Voyage

Along with trip organizers and longtime supporters Na Huong and Greig Craft, Thien Nhan, his mom Mai Anh and his 12-year-old brother Big Minh boarded a flight to Paris last night at midnight. Their final destination is Bologne, Italy, where Thien Nhan, 4, is to undergo genital surgery on January 29th.

As the group sat waiting at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport, Mai Anh admitted to being nervous about Thien Nhan's upcoming surgery. "I'm sure that Thien Nhan will sleep on the plane," she said. "But I doubt that I will."
[Photo: Thien Nhan (right) and his brother Little Minh check out some new toys that Thien Nhan will bring on his trip to Italy.]

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Getting ready

Because Thien Nhan is leaving for Italy tomorrow (Tuesday) night - and nobody wants him to catch a cold at school - he is staying home today. His mum, Mai Anh, is busy collecting warm clothes and packing for their trip.

Mai Anh, Thien Nhan, and Thien Nhan's eldest brother Big Minh will spend Vietnam's biggest festival, the Tet Lunar New Year, in Italy. Following his genital surgery, Thien Nhan must spend two to three weeks in hospital.
To prepare for the Lunar New Year, everybody in Vietnam gets a haircut, buys new clothes and makes themselves look as good as possible. Here's a photo of Thien Nhan's maternal grandpa or Ong Ngoai helping Thien Nhan to look extra handsome.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Italy: one week to go...

The countdown is on! In just one week, Thien Nhan will fly to Bologna, Italy, to undergo the most important surgery of his young life.

Dr. Roberto DeCastro, one of the world's leading experts in genital reconstruction, will rebuild an age-appropriate sized penis and scrotum and insert prosthetic testicles. Because some nerves in Thien Nhan's groin are undamaged, the penis should have sensation, and should continue to grow as he matures.

This complex surgery will take seven to nine hours. Recovery time is estimated at 14 to 20 days. All being well, this is the most difficult surgery that Thien Nhan, who's now four years old, will have to endure.

After a sizeable discount the surgery will cost US$45,000. Travel and three weeks' accomodation in Italy will add around another US$20,000.

Luckily, Thien Nhan's champion, Singaporean cartoonist CC Lee, has come through yet again. From May to December 2010, CC Lee raised an astounding US$13,755 towards Thien Nhan's medical care. As usual, he topped up the donations with his own money and handed over US$14,000.
In all, CC Lee, his readers and colleagues have donated US$77, 600 to help Thien Nhan. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of CC Lee and his fellow Singaporeans!

Thank you, Singapore!
[Photo shows Thien Nhan and his schoolmates doing their morning exercises].