Chinese netizens are applauding the courage of a young woman whose face is temporarily deformed by balloon implants in an effort to rid herself of a massive, possibly cancerous birthmark.
Dubbed online as the “Gourd Doll” (葫芦娃), 23-year-old Xiao Yan accepted the unusual treatment after her doctors advised her that the birthmark she’s had since birth may become cancerous, Shanghaiist reports (via Medium).
In a video uploaded to the local video-sharing site, Pear Video, Xiao can be seen hiding her face while commuting inside a subway train in Shanghai.
While Xiao had previously prepared herself to live with her condition, identified as a congenital melanocytic nevus, the recent pain she experienced prompted her to seek medical advice. The pain, doctors fear, may indicate cancer and requires immediate medical attention.
Xiao, who hails from a poor family in rural Guizhou province, had no choice but to undergo the suggested procedure to save her life. As she can not afford the costs, her family had to raise 100,000 yuan ($15,831) to cover just the first stage of her expensive medical procedure which started last October.
Her treatment started with four “balloons” implanted inside of her face to make the facial skin tissue to expand. This excess facial skin will be used to replace the birthmark once it is removed. The delicate process involves her going back to the hospital twice a week to have these balloons filled with more fluid to make her skin expand gradually. The second stage of her treatment is scheduled for June; until then, she affectionately remains “Gourd Doll” to concerned netizens everywhere.
Feature image via YouTube / 包子 习