A grandmother with a rare condition that has caused her face to melt has refused an operation in case the surgery kills her.
Wiang Boonmee, 63, developed the abnormal growths across her face when she was a child. They spread across her face, causing her to go blind and twisting her nose and mouth out of shape.
After several decades, the unsightly growths now hang from her face giving the appearance that her skin is melting.
She recently moved from her home in rural Surin province to capital Bangkok where she scrapes together a living selling accessories on the pavement in the centre of the city.
The mother-of-one’s condition received attention last week when medics were contacted to request assistance for her. But despite the severity of condition, believed to be related to neurofibromatosis, Wiang yesterday refused help because she is afraid of dying on the operating table.
Wiang, who also has two grandchildren, said: ‘I have had this problem for a long time. More than I can remember. I have survived and I’m healthy and have a job.
‘If I have an operation I might never wake up. I’m afraid I would not survive it. ‘My daughter brings me here so I can sell flowers and camphor oils. I am happy and somebody gave me a donation this week, which I’m grateful for.’
Praew Wattana, 22, who first contacted health workers to ask for help for Wiang, said she had seen her a few weeks ago and stopped to ask her about herself.
Praew said: ‘I saw the grandmother selling things on the street in front of the bank. I felt sorry for her because she could not see and I thought she was suffering.
‘I am sure she has a hard life but she is still working hard. She does not beg. She sells flowers and other small things. I’d really like to see her receive help.’
Dr. Sunura Ourairat, President of Rangsit University, visited Wiang on the street on Friday to offer to help her get medical attention.
He said: ‘I have asked for assistance from the Ministry of Public Health and asked for doctors to visit this grandmother. She is blind and originally from the north east region.
‘We are welcome and ready to help with surgery but she is afraid of dying. She said thank you to everybody for trying to help. We will continue to see what can be done for her.’
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic condition that often begins in childhood and causes benign tumours to grow on nerve tissue.
The severity of the condition varies between sufferers and in the developed world is most often treated in the early stages with surgery.