Twenty-eight-year-old Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai, who suffers from a rare premature aging disease that made her look like a 70-year old, returned to Vietnam Wednesday (May 16) after being treated in Taiwan for two months.
"I look 30 years younger now," she said with obvious happiness at a press conference in Ho Chi Minh City the same day.
"I have two birthdays. One is the day I was born and the other is the day I came to Taiwan, where I was given new hope."
Mai began showing signs of the rare genetic disorder known as Werner Syndrome at the age of ten, but with her family lacking the financial means to obtain medical assistance, the only option was the use of local herbs available at her home village back in Quang Nam Province's Hoi An Town.
After her plight was highlighted by the media, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) coordinated with other agencies to support Mai's surgery in Taiwan.
Dr. Hung-Chi Chen at the China Medical University Hospital, who led the team of doctors treating Mai, said that after receiving medical treatment and a sophisticated cranial operation, she was now free of vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels that happens when the body's immune system attacks the blood vessel by mistake, and her lung function has also seen substantial improvement.
"She no more cries out of sadness, but looks forward to a new life. We hope she keeps good health forever, and would like to provide continuous assistance," he said.
After recovery, Mai was also taught how to identify and avoid harmful environmental factors that can cause her health to deteriorate. Chen said his team will follow up on her case through overseas meetings with the assistance of Vietnamese researchers.
"We found that her younger brother also has the same chromosomal abnormality. Therefore we advise him to prevent exposure to the same risk factors as his sister, although he has not shown any clinical manifestation of a typical form of Werner syndrome yet," he said.
He said Mai's was the first case of premature ageing that was treated in Taiwan.