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Vietnamese victim of rare skin disorder recovering
By Tam Ngoc – Pham Anh - Thanh Nien News -
Y Non at the Quy Hoa National Leprosy and Dermatology Hospital in Binh Dinh Province undergoing treatment for a skin disorder and blood contamination. Photo by Tam Ngoc

A girl who almost died from a rare and serious skin disorder left untreated due to superstition is now recovering “magically,” doctors said.

Nguyen Thi Thoi Loan, head of the emergency department at the Quy Hoa National Leprosy and Dermatology Hospital in the south central province of Binh Dinh, said Wednesday: “Magic has happened during the recovery of Y Non.”

Loan said the rotten skin all over Non’s body is peeling off, and her new skin is clean. 

“This is really good news.”

Y Non, 11, was diagnosed with blood contamination, severe depletion and Lyell’s syndrome, which is an infantile skin and mucous membrane disease characterized by an eruption and lesions. It is listed as a rare disease, one defined with an infection rate per population of 1/2,000 or lower.

Non was rushed to the hospital from her home town in Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands February 21. Doctors, including the hospital director, stayed up all night to save her.

Doctors said Non was almost dead when she arrived. She was only skin and bones with a lot of ulcerations and was poorly responding. Her body temperature and blood pressure had dropped and her breath had slowed to 12 times a minute.

“Her skin and muscles were rotten,” Loan said.

They put her on a respirator and IV fluids.Doctors that brought her over from Kon Tum also stayed until the next morning.

“When she moaned for the first time, the whole team burst out in happiness like a mother hearing her child’s first cry, as that means she had a chance of survival,” Loan said.

Three hours of emergency aid then pushed her past that critical moment. She could eat, speak, urinate and eliminate waste several days later.

She can now smile and wink but the right eye has gone blind due to corneal inflammation, while vision in the other is blurred.

Earlier she could not shut her eyes during sleep and doctors had to cover them with bandages, Loan said.

Her mobility is also improving. She can stretch her arms and legs gently by herself under doctors’ instructions

She is still under intensive care and physical contact to her is limited to hospital staff to guarantee hygiene.

Victim of belief
Doctor Nguyen Thanh Tan, director of the hospital, said: “She is recovering but we cannot make any promises. We can only try our best to treat and care for her.”

Tan said the case is special for both its severity and the patient’s situation.

The girl from the Mo Nam ethnic group was left out in the jungle by her parents late last year after a fortune teller said jungle ghosts had gotten into her.

Her father A Hanh and mother Y Duong, who now stay around the hospital, said she started developing blisters that ulcerated in December, and had to stay out of school.

Her teachers informed local authorities and she was sent to a district medical center, which diagnosed her with skin inflammation.

But the parents snuck her out of the center ten days later under the persuasion of the fortune teller.

“Jungle ghosts have eaten her heart and liver, there’s no way to cure her,” they said the fortune teller had told them.

They prepared offerings for the ghosts for several days and Non did not get better, so they brought her to a tent around one kilometer from home and left her there, where she was taken care of by her eldest brother of 13 years old.

The tent was noticed by local officials in early February and they kept persuading the family to let the girl be hospitalized, and she was eventually sent to a provincial general hospital for first aid and to the specialized facility two days later.

Vo Thi Le, a Dak Long commune official, said when they gave her milk when the first found her, she was revived a little bit.

“I told her that we promised to save her… So she said yes and shed tears,” Le said.

She said local officials have been taking turns caring for the family’s three other children -- the youngest is 5 years old -- so the parents could stay at the hospital.

Authorities from the girl's hometown in Kon Tum Province have been raising funds for her treatment.

Thanh Nien Newspaper has also delivered more than VND28 million donated by its readers to her mother Y Duong.

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