The 16-year journey to find smiles of a poor disfigured student



“Mom, so from tomorrow on, I can see my lovely smile in the mirror!” Lan said to her mother, crying for happiness.

Smiles of children are the purest and most lovely things in life. However, numerous unlucky children were born without the opportunity to smile like others. Le Ngoc Lan (2002, Lam Dong Province) is one of these disadvantaged ones. Unfortunately, Lan was born with hemangioma occurred on the lower part of her face, making her face and lips deformed. Worse still, her family is extremely poor. Her father has been suffered from spinal cord tumor for 20 years so the whole family depends on her mother who earns a living by selling vegetables.

Ngoc Lan was unluckily born with lips deformity

When asked about her difficulties in life, Lan shared “The disadvantage of appearance makes me hard to get on well with my classmates. They often stay away from me, making me feel so depressed. But I couldn’t tell my mother about as I know she would be sad. Looking at them, I wished that someday I could smile like them, be as happy as they are. I also wanted to join in school activities to strengthen my soft skills but my appearance didn’t allow me to do that.”

Despite her difficult condition, Lan has continuously attempted to study. She keeps chasing her dream of being an economist to change her life. “My mother has brought me to everywhere she could, looking for a chance of treatment while she still has to make end meets. I love her and want to do something for her but all I could do is to learn hard which, I think, could make her happy.”

The haggard face of Ms. Cao Thi Hien (Lan’s mother)

The love and mercy of a mother to her child urges Lan’s mother to constantly seek for opportunity. She shared “I have brought her to every charity surgery program, looking for luck. However, sometimes the situation didn’t allow her to be operated. Our journey is so tiring.” Right after knowing that Facing the World will offer surgery at Hong Ngoc General Hospital, she prepared the application and sent it to the hospital with the great hope. Finally, a miracle was given to Lan “The day we received the phone call from the organization board, we were extremely delighted. Over that half of month, Lan was so excited to travel to Hanoi that she couldn’t sleep.” Ms. Hien added.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Niall Kirkpatrick with the support of Dr. Nguyen Nguyet Nha

Traveling more than 1000km from Lam Dong to Hanoi, Lan and her mother visited Hong Ngoc General Hospital on May 5, 2018 for examination. After Facing the World’s team of doctors, together with Dr. Nguyen Nguyet Nha carefully examined, Lan was selected to receive free surgery for lower lip reduction. The surgery was performed by Dr. Niall Kirkpatrick – Facing the World’s Medical Director, UK based leading reconstructive surgeon, with the support of Dr. Nguyen Nguyet Nha who was former deputy head of Craniofacial Department at Hanoi National Hospital of Pediatrics and has studied at Yonsie University (Korea) and Paris VI Medical University (France). Dr. Nha has cooperated with various teams of foreign doctors for charity examination and reconstructive surgery in Vietnam.

The surgery was successful. A part of her lower lip got thinner. After the surgery, she quickly recovered, being able to speak soon. Her communication got much easier. Of course, she has a long way to go. Numerous challenges are waiting for her to overcome but we believe that Lan will be as strong as she always is, making her family proud of her.

Lan and other children are deserved to enjoy their simple life without the sadness of imperfect appearance. With the mission of a world where there is no disfigured children in Vietnam, Facing the World Charity, together with Vietnam-based hospitals such as Viet-Duc Hospital and Hong Ngoc General Hospital has been developed the program so that more children would be treated.

In this trip, we also would like to express our sincere thanks to Vietnam Airlines for sponsoring air tickets for Facing the World team of experts.

Hong Ngoc General Hospital does hope that in the up-coming missions, more children who have craniofacial defects would be treated and have a chance to start new pages of their life.

For further information, please contact:

Event Team – Hong Ngoc General Hospital

Add: 3rd floor, 43 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Tel: (+84-24) 3927 5568 – ext 2268/2242

Hotline: (+84) 9322 32017