LEWISTON, NY - A young Vietnamese boy will soon return to his home country with proof that he has plenty of heroes half a world away.
Huu Nguyen, 4, is currently staying with a host family in Western New York while he recovers from a life-changing surgery.
Nguyen will return to his village in South Vietnam in a few weeks.
Doctors at Mt. St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston removed nearly half of the skin off of the boy's face to eliminate a skin condition that caused an unsightly, large, black patch on the right side, then grafted new skin on top. The procedure greatly reduces his risk of cancer later in life.
Dam Nguyen, the boy's father, calls it a rebirth.
"His first day of school, he went to school, and they called him black face. He never went back to school," said Dr. Jeffrey Meilman, a plastic surgeon who performed the procedure. "He had very few friends to play with because of his physical deformity that he had. Hopefully things will be changed for him."
Dr. Meilman is a part of the "Hope for Tomorrow Foundation," a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides free surgeries for impoverished children whose families can't afford the healthcare they need.
The doctors who are involved travel the world to perform life-altering surgeries. Each year, they bring one to two children to the United States to receive more complex procedures.