Cleft palate boy gets free operation thanks to award-winning portrait

By Dang Hanh, Thanh Nien News

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"Phia sau nu cuoi" (Behind the smil), taken by Tran Trong Luom, wins the special prize at a photo contest organized by VnExpress. "Phia sau nu cuoi" (Behind the smil), taken by Tran Trong Luom, wins the special prize at a photo contest organized by VnExpress.
Doctors in Ho Chi Minh City began the first operation on Thursday to help give a 10-year-old boy suffering from a horrific congenital disfigurement achieve a winning smile.
Ta Yen Nghiep, from the central province of Ninh Thuan, underwent a 90-minute operation to have his lips and nose reformed at around 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Doctors of the Nhi Dong 1, one of the two HCMC's leading children's hospitals, said a second operation would be done days later to heal his cleft palate.
The ethnic Raglay resident of a mountainous commune in Ninh Son District was hospitalized on Wednesday to prepare the operation, sponsored by Smile Train, a local charity.
The sponsor learned about Nghiep’s case after a picture of the boy won the special prize at a photo competition organized by news website VnExpress.

10-year-old Ta Yen Nghiep being prepped for surgery on Thursday morning. Photo credit: VnExpress

Phia sau nu cuoi (Behind the smile), taken by photographer Tran Trong Luom, moved thousands of viewers after spreading online earlier this month.
Luom said he visited Nghiep's school in a remote area of Ninh Thuan, and found him hiding behind a classroom curtain, watching his friends play outside.
Nguyen Van Dau, the head of the operating team, told VnExpress that Nghiep’s operation was a complicated one, due to the severity of the boy’s harelip and cleft palate.
He said he was confident his team could give the boy a perfect smile.

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