1st visit

Thien Nhan arrived in Singapore on Sunday, 25 April 2010.

On Monday, him, together with his adoptive mother Mai Anh,
adoptive brother Little Minh, Elka (the journalist who
helped Mai Anh adopt Thien Nhan) and Sol (Elka's son)
went to the zoo.

Despite the downpour, they had a wonderful time.
According to Elka, the kids loved seeing the monkeys and orangutans.
Thien Nhan was very impressed that they were bigger than
the ones that he's seen in Vietnam. They also liked the otters,
which were frolicking in the wet weather.

I would like to thank Singapore Zoo and
Ms Isabel Cheng (Director of Sales, Marketing & Comms
at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore) for kindly hosting
their visit.

The next day, I finally met the family for lunch at Swensens.
Now, because of their popular one-for-one lunch promotion,
Swensens do not take lunch reservations.

Then again, children love ice-cream and I couldn't think of
another more kid-friendly restaurant than Swensens...
so I wrote them an email and they kindly made an exception
and allowed me to reserve a table (thanks, Siti and Jeslyn).

Okay, on to the pics!

Here is the entire gang (except me, who's the cameraman,
and Sol, who's missing at the bottom left corner of the photo).
Joining us for lunch were my colleagues Miel and Chern
(both regular donors to my cause) plus Adarsh (another
regular donor) and his mum, Ms Latta.

Ours was like a "Mini United Nation Table" of sorts
'cos even though it was a small group, it comprised of
people from various countries: Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia,
The Philippines and Singapore.

Oh, here's Sol. He and Thien Nhan were playing with
their Iron Man figures, given to them by Adarsh.

They were so busy that the allure of kiddy food was lost on them
and Elka had to feed them both.

Poor Sol was feeling under the weather.

Here's a closeup of Thien Nhan with his Iron Man.

This is Little Minh playing an electronic handheld,
a present from Miel and I for the brothers.
Big Minh had to stay in Vietnam because he was having his exams.

Little Minh is big on dinosaurs. When Chern gave him an English
pictorial book on the subject, he rattled off names of the beasts in Vietnamese.

I was very impressed because, heck, I have problem even pronouncing
dino names in English!

Little Minh with his mum, Mai Anh.

Thien Nhan shared a gaming moment with Little Minh.

From left: Chern, Adarsh and his mom, Ms Latta.

Thien Nhan's turn with the gaming device.

Oh, by the way, that cut above his lips came about from his curiosity
when he was playing a spinning top back home.

Apparently he was so fascinated by how it stayed upright
that he went too close and the gyrating toy grazed his lips.


Thien Nhan and Chern.

Miel with Mai Anh.

Miel and Thien Nhan, who was so engrossed with his new gadget
that he didn't respond when I asked him to smile for the photo.

Hey, Thien Nhan! Uncle Miel is ready for the pic.

Hellooo Thien Nhan!


My colleague Miel is very photogenic and can strike hilarious poses on the fly.

Here's a shot of him in what we like to call the classic "Ah Pek at a Kopitiam"
("Old Uncle at a Coffeeshop") pose:

The lunch was rather short as Thien Nhan had to rush off to
the National University Hospital for a medical consult
(which was the main reason of his visit to Singapore).

Here they are, at the NUH waiting area:

And still waiting...

Thien Nhan was seen by Dr. Prabha.

After returning to Vietnam on April 28,
Elka sent me an email regarding the consult:

"Dr. Prabha felt that TN should have prosthetic testes inserted ASAP,
and that the penis should be extracted from beneath the skin so that
he can look like a normal boy. In his view, inserting small prosthetics
into a reconstructed scrotum now will help to stretch the skin,
so that when TN is older it will be easier to insert larger ones.

Dr Prabha felt that doing the genital surgery now would not impair
longterm fuction, and that psychologically it was very important.
His interpretation of ultrasounds was that TN had up to 2/3 of his penis,
and that it should work well in the future. He was very optimistic
about this. Of course we hope that this is true!

He suggested doing the surgery in July. TN would need to be there
2 days before and stay for 1 week after, then return after 3 months
for a checkup. Dr Prabha offered to waive his surgical fees and
try to get the hospital to minimize its other fees; if Mai Anh
decides on this course of action, he will give us a cost estimate
before we proceed.

We will now have to do some more research into these procedures
(and Prof Prabha), and then Mai Anh will have to decide which
course of action to take. A big and very difficult decision for her!
(The hospital in the US advocated waiting until age 9 to
perform any surgery.)"

I spoke to Mai Anh during lunch and learnt that she tries,
as much as possible, not to use the donations for Thien Nhan's
medical consults because she is concerned about the actual
costs of the surgeries when he needs them.

But I assured her that when that time comes, I will do my best
to raise the necessary money with my readers to help out.

After all, this is what this blog is for.