Korean trio gives gift of normalcy to Burmese boy

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Korean trio gives gift of normalcy to Burmese boy

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Thet Piang, a 10-year-old from Myanmar, smiles for a photo with Dr. Seo Jeong-meen, to his right, who performed a birth defect surgery for free at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. Provided by Samsung Medical Center

For a 10-year-old boy from Myanmar named Thet Paing, the simple act of going to the bathroom was a lifelong torture.

But after surgery at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Paing has had a birth defect corrected, and his life should now become normal.

Paing had been forced to use a colostomy bag in previous days because he was born without a normal rectum. A missionary hospital in Myanmar performed the colostomy surgery on him. Forced to wear a colostomy bag, Paing was subjected to bullying by his contemporaries.

His parents left for Thailand shortly after he was born 10 years ago to make money to support him. Paing lived with an uncle and was never able to afford to go to school.

Jang Cheol-ho, a 52-year-old missionary working in Myanmar, learned of Paing’s plight.

Jang, a missionary from the Grace and Love Church, is also a medical doctor, and he immediately thought of Dr. Seo Jeong-meen, a specialist in pediatric surgery at Samsung Medical Center. Seo and Jang are friends from medical college.

Seo decided to help Paing and perform his surgery for free. The two former classmates then cast their net to find a sponsor for Paing’s trip to Korea.

They turned to a friend from undergraduate days, We Sung-ryul, who runs a furniture shop. We agreed to pay all the travel and lodging expenses for the boy.

Teamwork from the three college pals changed the life of a young boy from another land.

“The surgery came out very well,” said Dr. So. “I was very glad to give Paing a very meaningful Christmas gift with two of my friends.”

“I am very excited to go back to Myanmar and go to school now,” said the boy with a smile.

Paing returns to Myanmar Wednesday.

BY JANG JOO-YOUNG [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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