The family of a five-year-old Pakistani girl who suffered from serious facial deformities yesterday thanked Taiwanese doctors for giving her a new face and a new life.
The patient in question, Bibi Laiba, was born with a cleft palate that left her with a 4cm opening in the top of her mouth and a displaced right eye.
Although the condition did not affect her intellectual development and it was not life threatening, it made her a target of ridicule from other children and made her a shy girl fearful of social interaction.
Because her family lacked resources and money, she was not able to receive the appropriate medical attention in Pakistan.
Upon learning about her situation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation decided to fly Laiba to Taiwan for free corrective surgery.
“The surgery was a big challenge for us,” said Philip Chen (陳國鼎), director of the hospital's craniofacial center. “I have never seen an opening as big as hers. It could well have been the first such case in Taiwan or even in Asia.”
Because of the size of the gap and the effort needed to rearrange her bone structure and organs, there was always a chance that her optic nerves or brain could be damaged during the operation, he said.
Thankfully, Laiba survived the surgery intact.
“I am now a pretty girl,” she was quoted as saying to her father in Pakistan by telephone.
Speaking at the press conference, Laiba's mother admitted that she felt frightened coming to a foreign country that she knew nothing about. It was the kindness of the people that made her feel at ease, she said.
“I don't know how to return the goodness of the Taiwanese people,” Laiba's mother said. “Although I don't have much money, when I come back with my daughter next year for a check-up, I will bring some gifts to show my gratitude.”
“I pray to Allah that he looks after the nice people here,” she added.
Published: June 25th, 2011
By: CNA Staff Writer