NEWS Kyrgyz Boy, Leading a Secluded Life After Facial Burn, Finds His Smile in Korea 2023.12.20

Third-Degree Burn on Half of the Face…'Disheartened,’ Local Surgery Abandoned Due to Poor Medical Conditions

With Assistance from AMC Medical Volunteers… Nose Reconstruction Surgery Using Forehead Graft

Professor Jong-Woo Choi “Successful Completion of Two Major Surgeries... Overcoming Psychological Distress”


▲ (from the left) Alinur's father, Alinur, and Professor Jong-Woo Choi of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Asan Medical Center are commemorating the successful treatment.


A Kyrgyz boy, who had been leading a secluded life without meeting friends due to burns on half of his face, miraculously encountered a medical volunteering team and underwent facial reconstruction surgery in Korea.


The boy, who had been isolated from the outside world due to the burn, finding solace in looking at world maps alone in his room, regained his smile and acquired a new dream of traveling the world.


Asan Medical Center recently announced the successful completion of two major surgeries on Alinur, an 8-year-old boy from Kyrgyzstan who suffered facial burns. Alinur, encountered during medical volunteering in Kyrgyzstan, underwent procedures to remove burn scars and reconstruct his nose using forehead skin. He is currently in good health and is scheduled to return to his home country on the 20th of this month.


Kyrgyzstan is a country in the northeast of Central Asia, with about 80% of its land comprised of high-altitude mountains. The country's complex terrain makes transportation difficult, and the healthcare environment is reported to be extremely inadequate, often preventing residents from receiving proper treatment in a timely manner.


In June 2021, the Alinur family, residing in a ramshackle house in a rural village in the Manas region of Kyrgyzstan, was in the process of boiling a chemical liquid for home repairs. While the family was momentarily distracted, the unsuspecting 6-year-old Alinur playfully threw a stone into the fireplace.


The boiling chemical liquid, erupting vigorously, splashed in all directions, covering Alinur's entire face, including his nose, forehead, and eyes.


The accident left Alinur with third-degree burns in the center of his face, and he was unable to see for the first three days due to swelling from the burns. Additionally, permanent deformities in the shape of his nose developed as a lasting consequence of the burn aftermath.


The only hospital in the rural village where Alinur resides, capable of providing urgent medical treatment, is located approximately 40 kilometers away from his home. Although not specifically specialized in burn care, Alinur's family, holding onto hope, urgently sought medical attention. Thankfully, after receiving 10 days of inpatient treatment, they learned that there were no abnormalities in his vision, bringing a sigh of relief.


▲ Alinur (left) and Professor Jong-Woo Choi of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Asan Medical Center are takinga commemorative photo.


However, due to the inadequate medical facilities, the hospital could only provide simple treatments to prevent the scars from worsening. Despite the significant financial burden, with the family covering a third of their monthly income for each treatment, Alinur's facial scars showed little improvement.


Furthermore, the local medical professionals stated that surgical intervention for scar treatment is only possible after the age of 14 and requires a waiting period of over 8 years. Additionally, considering the extensive nature of the surgery, involving a total of four procedures under general anesthesia, the medical team expressed a lack of confidence in undertaking such a major surgical intervention. Faced with the reality that there is no viable method to address the extensive facial burn scars, Alinur's family was disheartened.


Alinur experienced intense itching when the burned area was exposed to sunlight, and psychologically, he became significantly withdrawn, reducing his interactions with the outside world. He had chosen a reclusive lifestyle, avoiding meeting friends and building a barrier between himself and the external world.


After enduring this situation for about two years, a hopeful message reached Alinur's family in July. A medical team from Korea, offering free medical consultations, arrived in Kyrgyzstan. AMC Medical Volunteers conducted medical outreach activities in the capital city, Bishkek, from July 16th to 18th. Participating in this Kyrgyzstan medical mission were a total of 46 medical professionals from Asan Medical Center, including 15 doctors and 22 nurses, who successfully treated over 2,500 patients during the three-day period.


Professor Hyunsuk Peter Suh of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Asan Medical Center who treated Alinur during the Kyrgyzstan medical mission, stated, "Considering that the burn affected the facial area, I believed that treatment was imperative, taking into account the functional, aesthetic, and psychological aspects for the child. Recognizing the complexity of the surgery, which cannot be completed in a single procedure, I concluded that it would be beneficial to transfer him to Korea for treatment."


Having despaired at the prospect of living a lifetime with facial scars, Alinur's family, upon learning that they could receive treatment at Asan Medical Center, globally renowned for its medical expertise, made the decision to come to Korea without hesitation.


▲ Alinur and Professor Jong-Woo Choi of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Asan Medical Center (sixth and seventh from the left) are commemorating the successful treatment, along with other relevant medical staff.


Upon arriving in Korea on November 9th, Alinur immediately visited Asan Medical Center, where he underwent all the necessary precision tests for the upcoming surgery. Encouragingly, he received news that the surgery was feasible.


On November 13th, the team led by Professor Jong-Woo Choi of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Asan Medical Center successfully conducted the first-phase surgery to reconstruct Alinur's nose using the skin from his forehead. The intricate four-hour procedure involved removing scar tissues from the burn and reconstructing the nose with forehead skin that closely matched the color and texture of his face.


Subsequently, after a three-week engraftment period, the second surgery to separate the transplanted graft and the connection area with the forehead was successfully completed on December 6th at Asan Medical Center. The transplanted graft, having been engrafted for three weeks, can now independently and normatively allow blood flow even in the previously burned skin.


Despite his young age of only 8 years, Alinur successfully overcame the significant surgery, and his face was adorned not with patchy scars but with a bright, cheerful smile. Alinur is set to return home on December 20th.


The entire medical expenses will be supported by the Asan Foundation and Asan Medical Center.


Alinur expressed, "After the burn, I did not want people to see my face. The only enjoyable activity was being alone in my room, looking at world maps. Now that the doctors at Seoul Asan Medical Center have given me a beautiful face again, I want to play with my friends on this Christman. When I grow up, I want to travel to the countries I saw on the world map."


Professor Jong-Woo Choi, who performed Alinur's surgery, commented, "Despite his young age, Alinur handled the significant surgery well. As time passes, the reconstructed area will become more natural. I hope he forgets the pain of the burn and grows into a healthy and wonderful adult."


Meanwhile, AMC Medical Volunteers have carried out volunteer activities in regions with poor medical conditions under the founding principle of ‘Helping the least privileged members of our society.’ They have conducted 53 volunteer activities in 14 countries so far.