It was one of the most haunting images of the Vietnam War — a 9-year-old girl shown running down the road naked after being severely burned in a napalm bombing. The image taken by AP photographer Nick Ut earned a Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.
Burned over 30 percent of her body, the girl in the photo, Kim Phuc, was not expected to survive. But, after a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures including skin transplantations, she returned home. Years later she gained political asylum in Canada and established a foundation to provide medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.
Although she can hide the scars beneath long sleeves, her pain has continued unabated.
But now she has a new chance to heal, thanks to Boonshoft School of Medicine alumna Jill Waibel ’01, who also completed her residency in dermatology at Wright State. In September, Waibel began a series of laser treatments that she says will not only smooth and soften Phuc’s scarring but also will relieve the deep aches and pains that accompany it.