Taipei, June 24 (CNA) The family of a 5-year-old Pakistani girl suffering from serious facial deformities thanked Taiwanese doctors for giving her a new face and life in a press conference Friday.
The patient in question, Bibi Laiba, was born with a cleft palate that left her with a 4 cm opening in the top of her mouth and a displaced right eye.
Although the condition did not affect her intellectual development and was not life threatening, it made her a target of ridicule from other kids and shaped her into a shy little girl fearful of social interaction. Due to her family's lack of resources and money, however, she was not able to receive appropriate medical attention in Pakistan.
Upon learning about her situation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation decided to fly Bibi to Taiwan for free corrective surgery.
"The surgery was a big challenge for us," said Philip Chen, the 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 and brain could be damaged during the operation, he explained.
Laiba, however, survived the surgery. "I am now a pretty girl," she was quoted as saying to her father in Pakistan in a telephone call.
Speaking at the press conference, Laiba's mother admitted that she felt frightened coming to a foreign country and knowing nothing about it. 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,"said Laiba's mother. "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.
(By Nancy Liu)