Poor family in central Vietnam plagued by genetic tumors

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Luu Van Te (left) and his son at their home in Dak Lak Province

Luu Van Te had a surgery around 30 years ago to remove a small tumor on his face, only to have many more, big and small, grow all over his body including one of nearly 20 kilograms on his hip.

The 51-year-old man from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak said he was healthy and normal except for a small tumor on his face, and that his effort to get rid of it when he was 22 triggered the subsequent tumors, which have caused him severe problems for years now.

Te has trouble dressing and walking around, while working has been out of the question.

He said he has gone to various hospitals and been diagnosed by doctors as having neurofibromatosis, a genetically-inherited disorder in which the nerve tissue grows tumors that may be benign, or which can cause serious damage by compressing nerves and other tissues.

His children Luu Thi Nga, 26, and Luu Van Tuan, 18, have also developed multiple tumors, which began appearing around age two.

Tuan underwent surgery in 2011 at the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital to remove two tumors from his face, but they reappeared larger, and now cover his eyes, deforming his face.

Te said his family is poor, and that he has become fed up with the process of seeking treatment and has at times, wanted to give up.

"But my children are so young; I cannot let them be tortured with the condition.

"We have gone to Ho Chi Minh City together many times now, but our condition has not improved," said the father from Buon Triet Commune's Tung 1 Village in Lak District.

While the father and children have been busy going to hospitals, Te's wife, Chu Thi Nguyen, has done odd jobs for various local families in order to keep food on the table. They do not have a paddy field to work on.

The daughter, Nga, whose tumors are less severe, also provides informal domestic work for local families.

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