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Doctor offers hope to girl with a rare condition

“Today” show host Katie Couric shares the story of Gong Lu, a Chinese orphan with  a malformation of her nose.
/ Source: TODAY

Modern medicine sometimes provides opportunities for a second chance or a new beginning. “Today” show host Katie Couric takes a look at the story of a child whose unusual condition kept her from going to school and participating fully in life — and the one doctor who decided to tackle a difficult surgery and make her dreams come true.

“There she is. There she is. There she is.”

Five-year-old Gong Lu is a determined young lady.

“Hi there, sweet girl.”

Orphaned at birth, she recently traveled from China to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a rare operation.

She was born with a malformation of her nose, called a hemangioma. It's a birthmark made of blood vessels. This one was uncommon, and extremely large.

Dr. Lisa Buckmiller: Gong Lu, how are you? Oh, wow.

Dr. Lisa Buckmiller of Arkansas Children's Hospital is a world expert at removing these types of growths.

Buckmiller: Can you ask her if she wants us to remove that from her nose?Gong Lu: Yes.Buckmiller: What did she say? Some people call it a “red nose.”

Getting rid of that “red nose” is something Gong Lu has been hoping for all her life.

Gong Lu: After the surgery, I hope to be a beautiful girl. Then, I would like to go to school like other children.

Dr. Buckmiller showed Gong Lu some “before” and “after” pictures of other patients to put her at ease.

Gong Lu's interpreter: She says that looks like mine.

While in Little Rock, Gong Lu's host family is Lisa Ferrell and Jim Jackson. Already, she's learned how to ride a bike and play basketball. Gong Lu feels right at home with the three other children Lisa and Jim have adopted from China.

Lisa Ferrell: She needs care and she is going to get it, and it will change her life so she will grow up and have a different future than she does now.

Gong Lu says she wants to become a doctor so she can help other children. And she has another dream.

Gong Lu: I want to find a good father and mother who can adopt me.

Gong Lu was abandoned at an orphanage in south central China right after she was born. She's made the trip to America with orphanage director Weihua Xu, who was happy to work with an organization called Love Without Boundaries.

Each year, volunteers from that group help hundreds of Chinese orphans get medical attention. 

Karen Maunu of Love Without Boundaries: We tend to focus on special needs children and advocate for them. You know, all different types of needs. 

In fact, several families told Love Without Boundaries about Gong Lu, and Dr. Buckmiller agreed to do the procedure. Before the operation, Gong Lu mustered up her courage and was ready to go.

With careful precision, Dr. Buckmiller was able to reshape Gong Lu's nose.

Dr. Buckmiller: We were able to do several stages of the procedure. Not only to remove the tumor but also to narrow down the nostrils.

Gong Lu may need more surgery. But what she really wants is ... to be adopted.

Dr. Buckmiller: I think everyone who runs into Gong Lu wants to adopt her, and one of our goals is to give her a chance at that.

For more information on Love Without Boundaries, visit .