Originally uploaded by interplast
Fifty-three-year-old Khia had already had five operations, some performed by earlier Interplast teams, before she came to clinic day this year in Cao Lanh. Years ago she had filled an old gas tank to light a lamp, and it had promptly burst into flames. She was home alone at the time, and, because her clothes were made of satin, the fire quickly spread, and she sustained severe burns all along her arms, chest, neck and face. Until her first operation in 2007, she was not able to move her arm or to raise her head. It was a terrible time for her, and this past Thursday, the day of her surgery, Khia still teared up when she spoke of those years. However, even as she spoke of her hardship, you could see the strength and pride in her face. She raised her hand to her chest as she told our volunteer translator that even though her scars still pain her at times, she is very strong, and she is glad to be alive. Her husband of 18 years accompanied her to the hospital for her operation. He himself has issues with his eyes and high blood pressure. The mutual love they have for each other was incredibly apparent over the course of her surgery and the days afterward while she waited to have her bolster and sutures removed. She asked our doctors several times when she could be discharged, as her husband would not leave without her, but she worried that his condition would worsen if he waited. In the end, she left a couple days earlier than scheduled, with the promise to return for a follow-up on Friday. They both came back on Friday as promised, and our surgeons found that her graft was doing well. After this surgery, Khia will be able to move her neck much more freely and to raise her head. It hasn’t been an easy road for Khia, but she has come a long way.