"Horns' paralyze poor girl in central Vietnam

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Twelve-year-old Tran Thi Lan Vy has lived with "two horns" on her head all her life.

She was born with two small lumps, and her parents thought they would stay small. They were wrong.

When she was two, she was taken to a hospital where doctors said she has scaphocephaly, a congenital defect that causes a long narrow head, and hydrocephalus, a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. The latter can cause mental disability and death.

Doctors at the Binh Dinh General Hospital in the south-central province of the same name said she would need several surgeries.

But even for the only surgery that the girl has undergone so far, the family was unable to pay for the blood transfusions she needed.

Vy's mother, 32-year-old Cao Thi Tuong, said, "She needed constant blood transfusion but we had no money left at that time. I had to exchange my blood at the hospital."

She said without further surgeries, Vy is getting weaker.

The girl used to run around, singing but she's can only lie down, Tuong said. 

Her "horns" have grown and become almost as big as another head, while her legs and arms are paralyzed and she can no longer speak.

Tuong makes VND40,000 (less than US$2) a day selling rice pancakes on a shoulder pole, getting up at 2 a.m. every day to prepare them. Her husband works at construction sites. The money they earn is barely enough to feed the family, including Vy's two younger brothers, she said.

The parents, residents of the poor village of Luong Tho 2, Hoai Phu Commune, Hoai Nhon District, take turns to be with their daughter all the time, helpless to do anything else. VW

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