A Vietnamese man has watched as his young wife aged in appearance from a woman in her 20s to someone in her 70s almost overnight and, despite the sudden change, has declared that he still loves her.
The matrimonial vow of staying with one's partner through thick and thin, "till death do us part," appears to have held firm in this case as Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, has watched helplessly as his young wife Nguyen Thi Phuong grows old before his eyes, according to media reports.
This all started three years ago when Nguyen Thi Phuong, currently 26, had an allergic reaction to seafood and began taking medication to stop the resulting itching of her skin.
Phuong said she decided to use medicine acquired from a local pharmacy instead of going to the hospital because she and her husband were unable to afford the hospital medication.
Having taken the drugs for one month, Phuong said the itching became less severe, although hives remained on her skin. She later decided to use more traditional medicine, which got rid of the hives and aided in stopping the itching, but suddenly her skin began to sag as well as develop folds.
Phuong later decided to use another form of traditional medicine to treat her suddenly startling condition, but it failed to provide any help.
Aging rapidly, the skin on her face has became saggy and and began exhibiting deep wrinkles. Within months, she assumed the appearance of a septuagenarian or, based on personal perspective, someone even older.
The story of the unfortunate couple of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre became known to the world over the past week, as the pair began to speak to the media.
The couple does not remember what medicine Phuong had been taking prior to noticing the change in her appearance, or from which pharmacy it was purchased.
She soon resigned herself to the thought that there was nothing she and her husband could do and quickly decided to wear a face mask when leaving her home.
Since the curious story became public, it has prompted speculation and a variety of diagnoses from local doctors. Many of them do not believe, as some have argued, that Phuong has lipodystrophy, which is a rare condition that causes a layer of fatty tissue beneath the surface of the skin to disintegrate while the skin itself continues to grow at an accelerated pace.
Some have opined that the young woman might have taken low quality traditional medicines, which are often secretly spiked with corticoid to quicken and improve patients’ responses to some treatments; therefore the speculation is that she may be suffering from the wrongful use of corticoid.
After completing simple preliminary tests, Doctor Hoang Van Minh from the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University Hospital, claimed that it is possible for Phuong to return to her previous beauty.
According to Minh, who visited Phuong Tuesday, the 26-year-old woman has Mastocytosis, a rare disorder caused by the presence of too many mast cells. Apparently, there is currently no cure for Mastocytosis, but there are many medicines to help treat its symptoms.
Nevertheless, regardless of the cause of her condition, the old maxim which holds that "beauty is only skin deep" appears to apply here, as Tuyen maintains a deep devotion to his wife, of whom he has said:
"I married Phuong when she was a beautiful woman. I have followed her through her disease and have never been shocked at all. It's not easy to tell everything about one's own marital affairs. Just simply understand that I still love her very much."
Several images of the woman has been published online.