Vietnam 'Napalm Girl' receives final skin treatment 50 years after war-defining photograph

Nine-year-old Kim Phuc Phan Ti's picture became a defining illustration of the horrors of the Vietnam war - four decades later she has finally found some relief from her lasting wounds, as US Correspondent Emma Murphy

Kim Phuc Phan Thi, the subject of the infamous Napalm Girl photograph from the Vietnam war, has finished one of her final major treatments for the burns she sustained as a result of the bombing.

Just nine-years-old when the image was taken, 50 years later Ms Phan Thi has received her final skin treatment after decades of pain from the intense scarring the Napalm caused.

In 1972 a South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians, including 9-year-old Kim Credit: AP

The photograph, taken on June 8, 1972, won a Pulitzer Prize for Associated Press photographer Nick Ut and became a defining image of the war.

The effects of her injuries have blighted Ms Phan Thi throughout her life - limiting movement and leaving her in constant pain.

Retired Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, left, takes photographs as Kim Phuc as she receives laser treatment. Credit: AP

Completing one of her final major treatments earlier this week, she spoke to CBS on Tuesday about her journey.

"50 years later I am no longer a victim of war, I am not the Napalm girl, now I am a friend, am a helper, I'm a grandmother and now I am a survivor calling out for peace," Ms Phan Thi, who moved to Canada in the 1990s, told the US broadcaster.

Archive footage from the day of the attack shows Kim Phuc being given water

This video contains distressing images

The campaigner still remembers the bombing vividly, however, saying: "Of course we as children were just allowed to play nearby the bomb shelter inside of the temple courtyard. Then, I remember after lunch, the South Vietnamese soldiers yell for the children to run."

"And I look up I saw the airplane and four bombs landing like that," she said.

Kim Phuc waits to receive a laser treatment by Dr. Jill Waibel at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute. Credit: AP

"I still remember what I thought that moment, oh my goodness I got burned then I will be ugly than people will see me a different way."

Dr Jill Waibel at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute has been operating on Ms Phan Thi's scars for a number of years using a new, revolutionary treatment.

Kim Phuc in 1996 looking at a photo of herself holding her sleeping son. Credit: AP

"The main laser is a fractional blade laser, and it vaporizes the scar tissue," Dr Waibel told CBS.

"So I always say it's like boiling water on the stove, it literally steams it up but they're the tiniest holes the human body has ever seen, and the human body is able to heal that."

Dr Waibel has carried out the treatments without charge.

The lasers used in the procedure were developed to smooth out wrinkles around people's eyes. The treatment creates microscopic holes in the skin, which allow topical, collagen-building medicines to be absorbed deep through the layers of tissue.

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