Vietnamese ‘Napalm Girl’ Gets Final Skin Treatment 50 Years After Photo Stunned The World

The woman known as the "Napalm Girl" - who appeared in one of the most iconic war photographs during America's conflict with Vietnam - has finished skin treatment for her sustained injuries, 50 years later.
credit: Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy.
In 1972, during the Vietnam war, Associated Press photographer Nick Ut captured the moment the then nine-year-old Kim Phuc Phan Thi was running naked down a road with a terrified expression after being injured in a bombing.

After taking the photo, the South Vietnamese photographer put his camera down, wrapped Phan Thi in a blanket, and carried her to get medical attention.

He later won a Pulitzer Prize for the snapshot.

The picture was displayed across the front page of The New York Times the day after the napalm attack and it earned Phan Thi the nickname "Napalm Girl".

Now at 59, she has received her final skin treatment after decades of pain from the severe scarring.
Credit: AP Photographer Nick Ut's pictures of the "Napalm Girl". Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy.
Phan Thi recalled the day of the bombing to CBS News on Tuesday (June 28), and said that she was playing with other children before four bombs landed.

"Of course we as children were just allowed to play nearby the bomb shelter inside of the temple courtyard. Then, I remember after lunch, the South Vietnamese soldiers yell for the children to run," she said.

The 59-year-old said that she thought to herself after she got burned that she will be "ugly" for the rest of her life and that people will see her in a "different way".

Decades after the prominent photo, the retired photographer still kept in contact with Phan Ti and joined her in Miami this week to mark both the 50th anniversary of the image and the end of her skin treatments.

Ut, now 71, also remembers the devastating attack vividly. He said that he rushed Phan Thi and the other children to the hospital and revealed that Phan Thi's wounds were so severe that doctors doubted she would survive.

"Even the doctor said she will die, no way she [is] still alive. I tell them [three times] and they said no, then I hold my media pass and I said if she dies my picture [will be] on every front page [of] every newspaper. And they worry when I say that and took her right away inside," Ut recalled.
Photographer Nick Ut poses with his 1972 picture "Napalm Girl", next to Kim Phuc Phan Thi. Credit: DPA picture alliance / Alamy.
After recovering from her injuries, Phan Thi lived in Vietnam until 1992 before moving to Canada with her husband, where she still resides.

However, after moving to Canada, Phan Thi continued to suffer from intense pain from the burns and began undergoing specialized treatments with Dr. Jill Zwaibel in Miami for several years. The surgeon agreed to perform the work free of charge.

"Now 50 years later, I am no longer a victim of war, I am not the Napalm girl, now I am a friend, am a helper, I’m a grandmother and now I am a survivor calling out for peace," Phan Ti said.

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