After learning that FV Hospital’s Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund would sponsor the treatment of burn scars for her son Ya Thao, Mrs Bon Dong K’Don was stunned. It sounded too good to be true, but after making a phone call to FV to confirm the good news, both she and her husband were absolutely thrilled.

A doctor at FV Hospital examines Ya Thao’s burn scars 

The heartbreaking situation of six-year-old Ya Thao, who had suffered severe burns.

In June 2022, while waiting for her husband to come home, Mrs K’Don was cooking dinner and preparing bathwater for her children. Her two sons were playing nearby. Unexpectedly, in a moment of carelessness, her young son Ya Thao stumbled and fell into a pot of boiling water. Hearing her child’s piercing scream, Mrs K’Don rushed over in panic, quickly scooped her child out and cooled him down with water while calling for help. The neighbours rushed over, and went to inform Mr Ya Duyen, Ya Thao’s father, who then took the child to the local medical station in Da Quynh, Duc Trong (Lam Dong Province).

Due to the severity of the burns, after receiving first aid Ya Thao was transferred to the district hospital. After 10 days, his condition worsened and he had a continuous fever, so he was transferred to the provincial hospital and then to Children’s Hospital 2 in Ho Chi Minh City. After three weeks of specialist care, Ya Thao’s burns had completely healed and he was discharged from the hospital.

Unfortunately, his burns gradually formed raised red fleshy masses on Ya Thao’s chest. Raised scar tissue on his thighs became tight, causing him to limp. On Ya Thao’s right forearm, the scar tissue forced his arm to contract so that it was extremely hard to straighten, limiting his movement and daily activities. The scars were very itchy and as Ya Thao scratched, his scabbed flesh became infected and required continuous hospital treatment, which incurred significant expenses.

Many people advised Mrs Bon Dong K’Don to take her child for scar treatment, but her family’s financial situation was extremely difficult. Both Mrs Bon and her husband Mr Ya Duyen worked in the fields, and while he occasionally took on additional work, their income was barely enough to make ends meet. Despite their heartbreak, they couldn’t afford to seek treatment for their child’s scars. Every evening, as they watched their child scratching the scars, tears streamed down their faces.

Teachers at Ya Thao’s school understood the family’s situation and contacted volunteer groups in search of support. Fortunately, news of the family’s case reached the Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund (established and supported by FV Hospital). As a result, Ya Thao was able to go to Ho Chi Minh City for treatment, sponsored by the Fund.

“I can straighten my arm now!”

Dr Tran Anh Tan, FV Lifestyle Clinic, FV Hospital, says that following his accident, it has been nearly a year since Ya Thao developed raised scar tissue on various areas of the body, including the chest, right thigh, and right elbow, which had been forced into a permantly contracted position, bending at a 90-degree angle. The immediate goal for surgeons was to restore Ya Thao’s full range of movement before he started school.

Dr Tran Anh Tan and the medical team treats Ya Thao’s contracture scars.

Doctors recommended Ya Thao immediately undergo scar release surgery on his right arm to allow him to regain his normal flexion and grip. This was crucial as he is right-handed. “If the surgery is not performed, his health and motor function will be greatly affected. The scar from the burn, which is less than a year old, is already causing contracture. In the future, it will worsen and significantly impair his motor function,” says Dr Tan.

The surgery for Ya Thao took nearly three hours. After scar release, the impacted area was reconstructed using skin grafts taken from his right thigh. After five days, during a post-operative examination, the grafted skin was found to be smooth and rejuvenated, replacing the scarred area. Ms K’Don was deeply moved and expressed her gratitude to Dr Tan and the nurses and physiotherapists at FV Hospital. Ya Thao, on the other hand, joyfully exclaimed, “I can straighten my arm now!” with a bright smile on his face.

Ya Thao’s arm can now be extended, and he is beaming with happiness after the surgery. 

After being discharged from the hospital, Ya Thao needs to perform exercises as instructed by physical therapy experts at FV Hospital. These exercises will be gradually increased in intensity over the course of one month to help his arm regain normal function.

Dr Tan shared that Ya Thao has overcome the biggest challenge in his initial treatment, which was to release the scars and recover his movement. The next challenge is to address the hypertrophic scars on his chest, abdomen, and right thigh.

FV’s doctor gives instructions to Ya Thao and his family before discharge.

According to Dr Tan, a combination of surgery and superficial radiation therapy is currently the most effective method for treating hypertrophic and keloid scars is. However, it is not recommended for use in children and pregnant women. Ya Thao’s scar area is extensive, so careful calculation of the skin graft is necessary to ensure proper coverage. Simply removing the scar carries a high risk of scar recurrence, especially in the chest and shoulder area, with the potential for scars to be even larger than before, even two or three times the original size.

Scars on the chest, abdomen and thigh, have a tendency to cause itching and irritation. Particularly during weather changes, cold or humid conditions can induce itching, leading the child to scratch and potentially develop localised inflammation and ulcers. Immediate attention and treatment are necessary for ulcers on scar tissue, as after prolonged neglect they can turn into cancer. Furthermore, raised scar tissue on the chest tightens with each breath. This poses a more challenging recovery process compared to other areas and adds complexity to the doctor’s treatment approach.

Ya Thao will require additional time for the treatment of his raised scars. However, thanks to the surgical procedure sponsored by The Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund, he was able to return to his hometown and joyfully play with her friends as he prepares for the upcoming school year.

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