Love's Odyssey

10 images Created 24 Jun 2015

Before my baby was born, the village doctor came and palpated my belly and told me she would be born with two heads," says Lae Lae, who was seven months pregnant at the time.

Although her daughter, Than Zin Moe, was not born with an extra head, she suffered from meningocele, a rare condition in which the meninges protrude from an opening in the spine and fluid becomes trapped in a fold of skin at the back of the head, creating a large sac.

Lae Lae and her husband, U Nay, worked on a rubber farm in small town in Mon State. The family sought treatment for Than Zin Moe's condition in Yangon. After waiting at the hospital for a month, the doctor told them there was nothing he could do for their baby daughter at this time.

Upon their return home, a monk advised them to go to a free clinic in Mae Sot on the Thai-Myanmar border. The family saved for the trip for months by working every day on a rubber farm - a job that paid only a dollar a day. Lae Lae's two sons were taken out of school to save money.

Three months later, at Mae Tao Clinic, doctors said Than Zin Moe would not survive surgery - her condition was too advanced. The family planned to travel back home in the coming days, once again out of hope for their daughter.

But the next day, they returned to the clinic where they met a representative from Burma Children's Medical Fund, an independent child welfare group, who agreed to pay for the surgery to try to remove Than Zin Moe's bulge.
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