A ten-year-old girl has a reason to smile again after a kind surgeon in Nepal has operated on her facial birthmark free of charge.
Urmila Khangaha, from a small village in Palpa, Nepal, and lived a shy life since she was born with an angry black and hairy birthmark on her face.
The mark meant Urmila was too self conscious to walk the streets, meet new friends or flourish confidently in school.
After her father Ghana Bahadur Khangaha, 40, visited Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital, in Kathmandu, in August, this year, and her life changed forever.
Dr Jaswan Shakya, the medical director and a plastic surgeon at Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital, said: ‘She’s such beautiful little girl inside and shouldn’t have to hide her face. It was such a joy to see her excited with her new look. She’s now in a hurry to have the second surgery done so she can look ever better. Her father said she never used to smile but she’s already much happier and more confident.’
‘Her positive and happy attitude has definitely helped her recovery.’
Urmila’s condition is called Hairy Nevus, which is a congenital pigment or mole or birthmark that is dark in color and often hairy. The nevus – or more familiarly known as a birthmark – is smaller in infants and children, but it continues to grow as the child grows.
Urmila was born with just a small black mark above her eye and each year it got bigger but her poverty stricken parents could not afford to get her treatment.
Father Ghana, who works as a farmer, eventually took Urmila to Kathmandu in August this year desperate to help his daughter. His wife remained at home to look after their son.
Dr Jaswan said: ‘When I saw her I was shocked to see her little face. She’s so pretty but she had this black face. While she did not face any medical problems she had a lot of social and psychological issues.’
‘I immediately decided to operate on her, I didn’t hesitate.’
A team of surgeons spent three hours operating on Urmila at the Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital, on August 23, where they removed a large portion of black skin from her forehead and took a skin graft from her abdomen.
‘This was only the first stage,’ Dr Jaswan added. ‘We’ll remove more during the second phase and we’ll concentrate on her cheek and below her eye. It is extremely difficult to remove black skin from around the eyes but we hope laser treatment in the future will also help her. I’m determined to help her.’
Ghana is overwhelmed to see his daughter’s improvement. ‘It’s a miracle for me,’ he said. ‘I’m so happy to see her this way. She was a quiet child before but this surgery has already changed her. She smiles now and is already more confident. She just seems much happier with life.’