Left severely scarred and disabled after she was burned by napalm during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago, Kim Phuc, is getting a chance for treatment she never thought possible.
Phuc, now 52, was just 9-years-old when the chemical was accidentally dropped on her South Vietnamese village, badly burning more than one-third of her body. The raw moment was captured in an iconic photo by Nick Ut, showing Phuc, who would later come to be known as the “napalm girl,” running down the street, screaming in pain after ripping her own burning clothes from her flesh.
No one really expected that she would survive, and although the little girl prevailed, the pain she endured that day has lasted a lifetime. Dr. Jill S. Waibel, a dermatologist from Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute, who is now treating Phuc, said burn and trauma patients tend to suffer more than any other medical patients. Waibel said Phuc’s scars, although considered moderate, cause her pain and limit her mobility, something which she hopes to change with treatment.
“In our experience, no matter what type of scar a patient comes into our doors with, we have seen lasers improve each wound significantly,” Waibel said. “Having the ability to take care of these patients that face much more difficult roads than the average patient is an honor and I see it as a responsibility of mine.”
Waibel went on to explain what it’s like to work with the “napalm girl,” who now spends her time with a humanitarian effort aimed at reaching out to other children of war.
“She has developed an appreciation for life and a sense of responsibility to help others by sharing her story. Her suffering has added a humanizing element to the face of war and the tragedies she endured. It is an honor to work with Kim,” Waibel said. “She has inspired me as well.”
[ Today ]