Known around the world as “Napalm Girl,” Kim Phuc was just 9-years-old when she was photographed running away after a napalm bomb struck her village in Vietnam in June 1972.
Now 50 years later, Phuc has received her final round of treatment for the pain and scars she suffered that day.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo capturing the harrowing moment has remained iconic, serving as a lasting reminder of the horrors of war. But for Phuc, now 59, the physical pain from that moment has also lingered. The war survivor was in Miami Tuesday to undergo her 12th treatment for the burns.
Phuc received treatment at the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, NBC 6 South Florida, which is based in Miami, reported on Wednesday. The treatment was meant to be the final course of laser therapy for her scars, according to Sky News, which is owned by NBC News’ parent company, Comcast.
She and the photographer who captured the timeless image, Nick Ut, also reunited in Miami, with the pair recalling the harrowing moment the photo was taken.
“I heard the noise, bup-bup bup-bup, and then suddenly there was fire everywhere around me and I saw the fire all over my arm,” Phuc said Tuesday, according to NBC 6 South Florida.
Ut, who has been credited with saving Phuc’s life, said he remembered seeing her running: “I saw her arm burning, her body burning so badly.”
“He told me after he took my pic then he saw me burned so severely, he put down his camera and he rushed me to nearest hospital,” Phuc said.
Ut described how, at first, the hospital would not treat Phuc and instructed him to drive another two hours to a different location.
“I get upset, I hold my media pass, I say ‘I’m media, if she die my picture’s on the front page of every newspaper tomorrow,’ and they worry about I say that and they took her right away inside,” Ut said.
Phuc survived the incident, but the scars and pain have remained.
Dr. Jill Waibel has been helping Phuc recover at least from the physical pain from the incident, using laser therapy to heal and remove scar tissue.
“It used to be that everyone with an injury like Kim’s would pass away and so we are blessed now that we can keep people alive but we really have to help them thrive and live,” Waibel said, according to NBC 6 South Florida.
Phuc, who now lives in Toronto, said she hoped that the world would learn “how to live with love, hope and forgiveness.”
“…If everyone can learn to live like that we don’t need war at all,” she said.