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June 23, 2017

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'Pangolin woman' successfully gets hip replacement in Taiwan

TAIPEI--Chang Sih-mei (張四妹), an overseas Chinese from Malaysia with a rare genetic skin condition called harlequin ichthyosis, was discharged Monday from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital after undergoing a successful right hip replacement.

Known as the "Pangolin Woman," Chang has been treated for free at the hospital over the past 30 years for ichthyosis, a rare and severe skin disease that has disfigured her entire body.

The epithet "pangolin" is derived from the similarity of the scales on the body of ichthyosis sufferers to those of a pangolin, a scaly anteater found all over Southeast Asia.

Chang was on her sixth trip to Taiwan, and the 67-year-old, who is the world's longest survivor of ichthyosis, said at a press conference that she could finally "take a walk and water her vegetable garden" after the operation.

Hsieh Pang-hsin, the orthopedic surgeon at the hospital who performed Chang's hip replacement, pronounced the surgery a success but said Chang would need to replace her left hip as well in the next five years due to congenital underdevelopment.

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