Chinese girl visits Taiwan for sixth craniofacial operation


A Chinese girl from Yunnan province with neurofibromatosis named Yang Yunying, second from left front, poses with her mother, doctors and members of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation during a press conference in Taipei on Jan. 9. (Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Liberty Times)


Yang Yunying is an 11-year-old girl from China’s Yunnan province who has grown up dealing with the symptoms of neurofibromatosis (NF), a condition that had caused the right half of her face to become turgid and deformed. Pressure on her face and brain from the tumors has inconvenienced her life and caused learning impairments. She has traveled to Taiwan six times for surgeries to remove tumors, reconstruct her eyebrows and to get an artificial eye. “Yunying is so beautiful now,” her mother happily said on Jan. 9.

Yang lives 500km outside of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. It takes seven hours on a shuttle bus simply to get from her small village to the capital. Her penurious family has never used a washing machine or other similar household appliances. They chop wood to heat water for bathing. A volunteer medical team discovered Yang during a trip to Yunnan’s mountainous areas and, after referring her to the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation, she began receiving treatment in Taiwan two years ago.

Yang’s attending physician Chen Kuo-ting, director of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Craniofacial Department, says that exorbitant bleeding is quite common during NF surgery, adding that since Yang has Moyamoya syndrome her blood circulation is different from the average person, making her condition more complex than that of Vincent Kabore, an African boy who also previously came to Taiwan for craniofacial surgery. Yang’s surgery to remove the tumors alone took 13 hours.

During Yang’s first trip to Taiwan two years ago, she underwent surgery four times to remove tumors and skin flaps. At the end of last year, she came back to Taiwan to start the second phase of reconstructive facial surgery. Yang’s facial features have gradually been restored after a medical team used the latest 3D printing technology to create an artificial cranium and eye socket that were symmetrical with the left side of her face, and transplanted her eyebrows and gave her an artificial eye. She will be going back to Yunnan soon since the surgery is finished, returning to Taiwan every two years for a follow-up.

The foundation held a media event for Yang on Jan. 9 to celebrate her new life, during which film clips of Yang’s medical treatment in Taiwan were shown. Yang’s mother, apparently not much of a public speaker, made a deep bow at the event, thanking Taiwan for all its help. She also said that Yunying has become more talkative and that this most recent trip has been like a journey of rebirth, giving her daughter a new lease on life.


(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

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