During the Vietnam War, a photograph of Phan Thi Kim Phuc went around the world. She showed it when she was just a girl of nine, crying in the middle of a road, naked and covered with napalm.
The 1972 photo showed the horrors civilians were facing in the midst of war and made Kim Phuc an icon despite never asking for it.
But now, 50 years after that terrible event, the “napalm girl” as she has been known ever since, received his last skin treatment with a burn specialist. The end of a long journey of stigma and horror that she now hopes to leave behind.
Part of its recovery is due to Nick Ut, the photographer who captured the image in June 1972, after a chemical agent attack launched from a Skyraider warplane in South Vietnam. He took her to seek medical treatment, and began the long road to recovery.
Phuc spent more than a year in hospital recovering from his injuries and have lived with ongoing pain and limited movement. This week he underwent his twelfth and final round of laser treatment at the Miami Institute of Dermatology and Laser, reported NBC 6 South Florida.
The sessions began in 2015, a series of laser treatments that, according to her doctor, Jill Waibel, served to smooth and soften the thick, pale scar tissue that billows from her left hand up her arm, from her neck to the hairline. hair and down most of his back.
“So many years I thought I would have no more scars, no more pain when I was in heaven. But now, this is heaven on earth for me!” said Phuc when he arrived in Miami to start his treatment.
In Miami, she was accompanied by Ut, who received the Pulitzer Prize for the image, which he took at the age of 21, and to whom he attributes saving his life.
“He is the beginning and the end”Phuc then said about the man he calls “Uncle Ut.”
“He took a picture of me and now he will be here with me on this new journey, new chapter,” he added.
Phuc suffered severe burns to more than a third of his body; at that time, most of the people who suffered such injuries in more than 10% of their bodies died.
Napalm sticks together like a jelly, so there was no way for victims like Phuc to escape the heat, like they would in a normal fire.
The fire was attached to her for a long time and destroyed her skin through the collagen layer, leaving her with scars almost four times thicker than normal skin.
These scars caused him severe pain throughout his life, and restricted his body movements.
Now 59, and on the verge of finishing treatment that will restore a significant part of her quality of life, Phuc says she wishes everyone could “live with love, hope and forgiveness, and if everyone can learn to live like this, we don’t need war at all”.
Phuc has described hating photography, for feeling ugly and embarrassed for having been photographed naked. Her clothes had been burned from her body. In the years after the attack, she became suicidal while living with mental trauma and excruciating physical pain.
He moved to Canada in the 1990s and later established the Kim Foundation International, which provides medical assistance, including psychological support, to children affected by war.
But over the years he recognized that thanks to that photo he saved his life and that is why he dedicated himself to helping other victims of the war.
“I am no longer a victim of war. I am a survivor. I feel like 50 years ago I was a victim of war, but 50 years later, I was a friend, a helper, a mother, a grandmother, and a survivor crying out for peace.”he said in an interview with CBC last month, said
50 years of the mythical photo of the “Napalm Girl”
Her little body burning, naked and terrified: 50 years after the girl who turned the Vietnam War around
Kim Phuc, the “napalm girl”, started a treatment to beat the pain