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September 24, 2009

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Acid-attack girl given hope by surgeons

A GIRL, 15, horribly disfigured in a sulfuric acid attack two years ago, received a group diagnosis by esteemed surgeons and experts from Shanghai hospitals yesterday.

The city is the last leg of a national charity drive to try and give her the normal life her adoptive, grief-stricken and extremely poor family is seeking.

Chen Chao has undergone 22 operations in the past two years in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Beijing.

Thanks to the China Association of Social Work's Save the Children Committee, she was yesterday admitted to Shanghai Ren'ai Hospital for a series of free plastic surgery procedures and major eye surgery to improve her appearance and life quality.

The acid attack took place on July 30, 2007, when her mentally ill cousin poured a bottle of sulfuric acid over her head, believing Chen had "become a demon with horns."

"My biggest wish is to see the world again," Chen said yesterday while doctors checked her wounds.

The girl's entire face and much of body are covered by scars, with her eyes, nose and mouth fused together as just two holes.

"She is in ruins. You haven't yet seen the thick leather-like skin on her body," said Chen Zhiping, the father, a Sichuan Province native.

Shanghai doctors said Chen was on the edge of blindness as all she could sense was strong light.

Her left eye was completely blind, they said, while there was a slim chance of repairing her right eye, which had one lid stuck shut.

"We have limited time to operate on her right eye before both eyelids stick together," said Yan Shoujian, a doctor from Hushen Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Hospital. "The chance of success is slim but we will try."

Chen's adoptive parents have spent a lot of time shedding tears for their "little angel."

"She is such a good girl with an excellent personality and great academic achievements," said Chen Zhiping, who adopted Chen Chao 15 years ago after he found her as an infant, abandoned under a bridge.

He said Chen Chao once helped save a girl who tried to commit suicide by swallowing pesticide and donated a month's worth of breakfast fees to help a classmate with leukemia.

"She never disappointed us," her proud father said.

"And we have never given up hope of saving her. It's our strong faith in life and love that once saved her life.

"We believe the power of faith can save her again."


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