Vietnam War's 'Napalm Girl' Kim Phuc Receives Final Burn Treatment 50 Years Later

Kim Phuc was severely burned by Napalm in 1972 when she was 9 years old and the photo of her became synonymous with the civilian causalities of the conflict

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 05: Kim Phuc and Nick Ut attend the Press Preview of the Exhibition "From Hell to Hollywood" at Palazzo Lombardia on May 05, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo: Marco Tacca/Getty

Kim Phuc, who is known as the "Napalm Girl," has received her final major skin treatment 50 years after being burned by a napalm blast in Vietnam at age 9.

Moments after the explosion, as she ran burning and in pain a photo of her was taken which became synonymous with the civilian causalities of the conflict.

On Tuesday, Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute shared on Instagram that Phuc, now 59, returned this week for another skin treatment. It posted the photo of Phuc that was captured on June 8, 1972 by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut as well as an image of her undergoing treatment while lying in a hospital bed. Dr. Jill Waibel, who performed the procedure "to help her scars and pain," was also seen in a photo speaking with cameras about the milestone moment.

Phuc's recent treatment marked her last, per CBS4. She told the outlet she's received 12 treatments after suffering severe pain due to her burns.

"Twelve times, and now, yes, absolutely, after those treatments my pain is so much better," she said.

Now, she will just need to have minor laser treatments to complete her recovery.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nick Ut/AP/Shutterstock (7364170a) South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on . A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division Napalm Girl, Trang Bang, Vietnam
Nick Ut/AP/Shutterstock

Waibel, who performed the treatments for free, explained to CBS4, "The main laser is a fractional blade laser, and it vaporizes the scar tissue. 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."

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in September 2017, Phuc opened up about the Pulitzer-winning image, sharing, "To many people, more than anything, it shows the horror of the Vietnam War and any war. On that day, as I ran, I thought, 'This is what it is like to die.' "

Phuc was wrapped in a soldier's rain poncho and placed in a morgue because doctors didn't see any hope for her survival. She suffered burns in over 65 percent of her body.

"I fought for my life, though," the married mother of two said, "and after more than a year and 17 surgeries, I made it. That is when I learned that the hardship was just beginning. Why did I have to carry these ugly, painful scars? I felt that I would never have a boyfriend, never get married, never have a normal life. It was a very low point."

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Praising Waibel's work, she told PEOPLE, "I used to hold my new grandson and could not feel his touch, and now, I can feel him. It's so beautiful that I want to cry each time he touches me. Because of this treatment, I now have hope, and that's what I want to share with people. If 'The Girl in the Picture' can have hope, then you can have hope, too."

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Speaking with CBS4, she credited Ut for saving her life after he took her and other injured children to the hospital and demanded her to get help following the 1972 blast.

"To be honest he saved my life, and he became a part of my family," Phuc said, adding, "Now 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."

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