Born to impoverished parents in the frequently lawless state of Bihar, in India's volatile northeast, Lakshmi faced an uncertain future until a wealthy doctor heard of her plight and offered to operate on her for free.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sharan Patil, owner of the Sparsh Hospital in Bangalore 2,000 miles south, travelled to Lakshmi's remote village in 2007 to meet the child and offer her parents the chance of a lifetime.
After more than a month planning the separation, Dr Patil's team attempted the first operation of its kind in the world.
Hundreds of journalists camped outside the hospital throughout the 27-hour surgery.
Lakshmi's fame, having spread from her tiny village around the world, prompted Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN), a charitable school looking after disabled children in the desert state of Rajasthan, to offer her parents a place to live and the chance of an education for Lakshmi and her brother Mithilesh.