Youth Leader Makes Progress After Acid Attack

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The pastor of a Smyrna youth leader who suffered severe burns after an acid attack said he is improving. 

Officials with the Smyrna Police Department said Christopher Phiouthong was at his home on Henricks Hill Drive when a perpetrator broke in and threw a powerful liquid chemical on him on April 5th. 

The 27-year-old victim has been at the hospital since the brutal incident with serious burns to more than half of his body. 

"He underwent his 11th surgery and on Thursday, he will have his 12th surgery," The Salvation Army Associate Corps Officer Lt. Alyssa Irvin said. "Doctors have been able to do multiple skin grafts on his face, back, arms and hands."

Lt. Irvin is also the pastor of the organization's south campus on Paragon Mills Road. That is where Phiouthong has been a youth leader for many years.

"He's had a passion for teaching children and showing them Christ examples by the way he lives. He's also very passionate about Christian hip hop and dance," Irvin added.

Although he cannot have visitors outside of his family right now, Irvin has been able to speak with Phiouthong on the phone. She said he is able to walk and make progress on his eyesight despite fears he would be permanently blind.

"He is able to see shadows and objects, and he's able to walk to his mother because he can see her in the room standing," she said.

Doctors have been able to repair parts of his face, but Irvin said Phiouthong still has not been able to see himself in the mirror.

Despite permanent scars, she knows his personality and passion will remain the same.

"When this was happening he doesn't understand why he didn't just die and wanted to give up but at a certain point, he realized that he couldn't give up because there were people counting on him," she stated.

The family continued to ask for prayers and support during this difficult time.

A GoFundMe account is still set up with a goal of $100,000. So far, more than $81,000 have been raised.

Smyrna detectives continue to search for the culprit behind the attack. Irvin said Phiouthong did not know who the attacker was.

A benefit concert will be held on May 22nd at 7 p.m. with a couple of his favorite Christian hip hop artists. A location has not been set. 

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