Imagine not being able to pat your favourite reindeer - Interplast

Imagine not being able to pat your favourite reindeer

Yanjinlkham and her mother, waiting at the hospital for surgery.

Yanjinlkham is pressed up close to her mother in the hospital waiting room. She is a lively little girl with long dark hair, a twinkle in her eye and a scar covering the right side of her face.

Yanjinlkham’s mother feels responsible for what happened to her daughter, and is very emotional when telling the story. While she was tending to the family’s reindeer herd, Yanjinlkham was left on her own in the family “ger” (a traditional Mongolian home). A typically curious five-year-old she played with a box of matches that had been put aside for lighting their old cookstove, triggering a fire. Yanjinlkham received extensive burns to her face, back and hands.

Her distraught mother took her for treatment at the local hospital where they did the best that they could. However, best-practice burns management is complex and requires specialised treatment.

Please help change the future for a child like Yanjinlkham. Make a donation this festive season.


If burns are not managed properly in the early stages, thick scars develop that tighten the skin. This happened with Yanjinlkham’s hands, fusing some of her fingers together and making them very difficult to use. It can often take a series of operations as the child grows to restore function.

Unfortunately, this type of comprehensive burns management treatment is not available in remote regions in Mongolia.

Last year Yanjinlkham was seen by a visiting Interplast team and it was hoped that they could operate on her hands. Unfortunately, she had a bad cold and wasn’t healthy enough for surgery.

She had to miss out.

When her mother heard that Interplast was returning in August this year, she was determined to have her daughter seen. Our team was working in another part of Mongolia a long way from the remote region where Yanjinlkham’s family live with their reindeer herd. To reach the Interplast team, Yanjinlkham and her mother had to travel four hours by horse, and then eight hours in a mini Russian Jeep.

You can help us to keep sending teams so that children don’t miss out on much-needed surgery.



Yanjinlkham receives a koala as a gift from the Interplast team.

Vital help had arrived.

Thankfully, this time Yanjinlkham was healthy and ready for surgery. The volunteer Interplast team, including plastic surgeon Kirstie MacGill and anaesthetist David Pescod, worked closely with Mongolian medical staff, demonstrating every step of the procedure so they can perform similar operations by themselves in the future. They released the burn scars on Yanjinlkham’s right hand, restoring her ability to use it.

Sadly, Yanjinlkham’s experience is not unusual. According to the World Health Organisation 180,000 deaths every year are caused by burns, with most occurring in low and middle-income countries. These injuries are commonly associated with cooking with open fires and unsafe cookstoves, and from open flames used for heating.

One survey found that 25 per cent of children under five in Mongolia have sustained burns.

With your help we can train local teams to make treatment readily available.


Yanjinlkham with a local nurse after the successful surgery on her right hand.

The surgery was a success.

Once she has fully recovered, Yanjinlkham will be able to pat her favourite reindeer, help around the home and continue learning to write.

“I am very thankful for the Australian doctors coming to help,” said Yanjinlkham’s relieved mother. “I would like Yanjinlkham to become a doctor one day so that she can help people.”

We have volunteer teams ready to treat children like Yanjinlkham across the Asia Pacific and we have many requests from countries in this region to help train their local medical professionals. Our only limitation is our need for funding.

You can help us treat burns across the Asia Pacific by making a donation this festive season.

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