More than 40 years after Kim Phuc was photographed running naked from a napalm attack, treatment in the US will also help ease her pain. n the photograph that made Kim Phuc a living symbol of the Vietnam war, her burns aren’t visible – only her agony as she runs wailing toward the camera, her arms flung away from her body, naked because she has ripped off her burning clothes.
More than 40 years later she can hide the scars beneath long sleeves, but that betrays the pain she has endured since that errant napalm strike in 1972. Now she has a new chance to heal – a prospect she once thought possible only in a life after death. “So many years I thought that I have no more scars, no more pain when I’m in heaven. But now – heaven on earth for me!” Phuc says upon her arrival in Miami to see a dermatologist who specialises in laser treatments for burn patients. Late last month, Phuc, 52, began a series of laser treatments that her doctor, Jill Waibel of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, says will smooth and soften the pale, thick scar tissue that ripples from her left hand up her arm, up her neck to her hairline and down almost all of her back.
Even more important to Phuc, Waibel says the treatments also will relieve the deep aches and pains that plague her to this day.