Heartening recovery

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A three-year-old Vietnamese baby with a rare genetic disorder is recovering well one week after her surgery was conducted by doctors at the Severance Hospital in South Korean on April 18.

Nguyen Minh Ngoc of Hanoi has Apert Syndrome, which often results in a high-arched palate, a narrow palate, and crowded teeth. Those who suffer from the disorder are often marked with webbed hands and a face that appears to be sunken in the center.

Ngoc was supported by the Medical Korea Charity Program, offered by the Korean Health Industry Development Institute, to get her surgery done for free.

"At this time, we are performing distraction osteogenesis (a surgical process used to reconstruct bone deformities) for cranial remodeling. We use the distractor for increasing and making proper shape of cranium. It will take about a month," the main surgeon, Dr Lew Dae Hyun of Yonsei University, told Vietweek on Wednesday.

Doctors will remove the distractor after four or five months and the cranial remodeling will be complete.

"But it's not the end. She has hypoplasia (underdevelopment or incomplete development of a tissue or organ) in the middle of her face, and she will need one more operation for her mid face advancement after one year," Lew said.

During the surgery on April 18, Lew was assisted by five more doctors, including plastic surgeons and neuro-surgeons, and two nurses.

Dr Lew, who has extensive experience on craniofacial surgery, said Ngoc's operation was "well done without any problem" although it was a difficult case.

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"She has craniosynostosis (one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant skull prematurely fused by ossification) and syndactyly (two or more digits are fused together) on her extremity"¦ It was a difficult case and a dangerous case," he said, adding that Ngoc should have had cranial remodeling done when she was one or two years old.

Ngoc's mother, who wanted to be identified only as T.H., said the surgery lasted seven hours.

The 31-year-old bookstore clerk said she was "extremely happy" when she was informed that her daughter's surgery was successful.

"I immediately phoned to share the happiness with my husband back home in Hanoi," she said. "Now, we hope she recovers soon so we can go home."

The South Korean organization also supported the mother and daughter with round trip air tickets and expenditures incurred during their stay abroad.

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