A Lubbock hospital is giving a young Vietnamese boy a second chance at life. Last month, the UMC International Medical Mission program made history when it funded a 12-hour medical procedure on 10-year old Thien Tran, to remove a tumor near his eye. Thien's Great-Aunt, Claudie An, says the boy has endured more than most his age.
"When he was about 8 months old, they realized there was a kind of deformity in his left eye," An said.
The condition is called Neurofibromatosis and as Thien grew, so did the tumor, hindering his vision. Back in Vietnam, Thien braved surgery after surgery to no avail.
However, that all changed when Texas Tech Physician and Ophthalmologist, Kenn Freedman, met Thien on a medical mission to Vietnam.
"Two years ago, Dr. Freedman when to Vietnam and for some reason, he got to see Doctor Freedman," An said.
The doctor knew Thien would need to travel to the states for proper care. With the help of UMC's medical mission program, that became a reality in May.
"All of us was in joy, pure joy," An said.
Doctors spent 12 hours in the operating room, extracting most of the tumor and reconstructing Thien's face. Dr. Joshua Demke was Thien's Craniomaxillofacial surgeon.
"It's very difficult to completely get rid of that without removing the eye entirely and that's something that we always try and avoid," Demke said.
Thien's sight is now much better and his team couldn't have asked for a better outcome, but his battle is far from over.
"Neurofibromatosis is something that if you have that, you'll experience some form of it for the rest of your life," Demke said.
Regardless, this ten year old is ready to take on everything his future holds.
"When I grow up, I want to be a police officer," Thien said.
Thien has plenty of time to secure his future in law enforcement and his family says, they owe it all to these doctors.
"Huge heart, huge everything, so wonderful. To us they are our angels and we do appreciate it," An said.
Thien and his mother Ngoc Hoang will return to Vietnam next month. His condition may require additional surgeries.
Thien was the first patient brought to the US for treatment through the UMC International Medical Mission Program. His surgery was paid for entirely through private donations to the program, with help from the Lubbock Area Foundation.
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