Kim Phuc Phan Thi thought she’d have to live the rest of her life with the scars that covered much or her body, “but now our Earth has become my paradise again” she told the Miami Herald.
Thi, a 53-year old Vietnamese woman has lived in Canada for more than 20 years. But she rose to fame, albeit anonymously, when Nick Ut, an Associated Press photographer took her picture during the Vietnam War.
Most people know Thi as the “Napalm Girl”.
Thi’s newfound happiness comes courtesy of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, run by Dr. Jill Waibel.
44 years after Thi was a victim of Napalm apparently dropped from a South Vietnamese plane, she saw an advert for Dr Waibel’s treatment on television. She called the clinic, and after recognising her story, Dr Waibel offered to perform the treatment for free.
On Saturday Thi completed her final laser skin treatment, a process which has taken the past nine months to complete.
Thanks to the pioneering treatment, which used over 50 lasers to boil away scar tissue to allow new skin to grow in the affected areas, Thi can now feel her grandson’s hand on her arm. “Before, sometimes things would touch me and I wouldn’t know what it was. Now I can feel it”, Thi said.
The aftermath of the moment captured by Nick Ut in 1972 (Ut won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo, below) left Thi with scars stretching from her hairline, down her back, and up her left arm. “It was so severe”, said Dr Waibel, “We don’t call it that anymore, but (it was a) fourth degree burn”.
Thi was photographed on June 8, 1972, when she was only 9-years old. Stripped of her clothes by the napalm, fleeing on a road from her village Trang Bang in southern Vietnam, the photo was immediately published worldwide and remains a strong symbol for all world peace campaigners.
“I never would have thought that I could one day heal my wounds and forget the pain,” said Thi. But with this cutting-edge medical laser technology, the girl who has been seen as a symbol of the pain and suffering of war for nearly 50 years, has found the peace she sought as a child.