Nguyen Thi Ai Tran, 3, and her mother Tran Thi Trang
Three-year-old Nguyen Thi Ai Tran is much shier than other girls her age.
She does not like to watch herself in the mirror or have her hair done.
She is aware that she is not normal. The skin on her face, belly, arms and neck sags and wrinkles like a 60-year-old woman.
Doctors at Children's Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City, around 360 kilometers away from Tran's home in Ca Mau Province, have said she suffers from premature aging.
Tran's parents have not been able to take her to the hospital for subsequent inspections.
They have spent all their savings on an operation at the Ca Mau General Hospital to treat inguinal hernia, a condition she'd had for a year.
"We cannot afford to have her skin condition treated. We hope people, charity groups and doctors can help her," said the mother, Tran Thu Trang of Hamlet 9, Khanh An Commune, U Minh District.
Trang said the baby's skin was normal until her fourth month.
"When she was two months old, my breast milk disappeared and I had to feed her with instant porridge. She gained weight quickly but she had diarrhea and coughing fits a month later, and then came the skin condition," the mother said.
"First I thought that the skin had gotten loose due to weight loss after the sickness, but it just got worse.
"Every time I look at her, I don't know what to do but cry," she said.
Nguyen Thanh Sac, the father, said Tran has noticed her difference for nearly a year and anytime she goes out, she would wear a mask used typically by adults for sunshine protection.
Trang said "She would love to go to the nursery school like other kids in the neighborhood. But I don't dare let her go. I'm afraid she would be teased."
Readers and others interested in helping Tran can send donations to the Vietcombank account (102010000116341) of the Thanh Nien Newspaper. All donations should be noted as intended for "Nguyá»…n Thá»‹ Ái Trân." They can also be deposited at Thanh Nien offices nationwide.
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