On December 7th, 2012, VinaCapital Foundation accompanied with University Medical Center (UMC) to bring an outreach program to poor children in Can Tho and surrounding provinces. UMC team included: Dr Nguyen Anh Dung, Cardiac surgeon, deputy of Cardiac Dept Dr Luong Cong Hieu, Cardiac surgeon Dr Nguyen Dinh Dai Khanh, cardiologist Cardiac nurse, Le Thi Ngoc Lien Cardiac nurse, Nguyen Thi Bich Chi There were also two volunteers from Singapore, Samuel Oh and Daniel Oh joined the team.
We have prepared for the trip since the end of October. We had a detailed itinerary that indicated job for each person. For those who join this program for the first time, they must be excited and yes, that was the feeling of some of us. December 7th, after lunch, we went to Can Tho. There was heavy traffic jam, our bus moved little by little and we arrived finally at 6 PM. However, everyone was in good mood and was eager to see the children the following day. December 8th, the outreach started at 7h30 in the Can Tho Central Hospital. It was supposed to be 150 patients coming to the outreach but in fact, there were 113 cases screened this time. It was a small number compared with numbers from other outreaches in other provinces but cases here were more severe. Base on the statistic, among 61 children brought to the screening, 33 children (that meant more than 50%) need surgery. 33 families know what they have to do but they don’t know how to do without money. Children, little bodies, have suffered pains day by day because of heart disease. Some of them even suffered lack of love from their parents because they were abandoned. Those children have lived with their grandparents or aunt or uncle. Maybe I have good imagination but there is sadness in their eyes… The checking process had three steps for patients with heart disease: General check by Dr. Dung/Dr. Hieu → Ultrasound test by Dr. Khanh → Final advice by Dr.Dung/Dr.Hieu The atmosphere of the ultrasound room was filled with sadness and worry since almost patients coming to this step were diagnosed with cardiac disease. Right here we have listened to touching stories from the patients. We shared with them to alleviate their depression.
Doctors and nurses of UMC were very enthusiastic. They checked each case as carefully as they could to ensure they got the accuracy results. Being tired and sick, some kids cried and one baby even refused to be checked. Doctor Khanh advised his parents to bring him to the University Medical Center for free ultrasound testing.
Time was passing by and it was nearly 5 PM, patients and their families got worried because the closed time was coming, but we promised not to leave until finishing our work. We left Can Tho at 6 PM brought along case histories and images of kids with purple lips, black fingers. We know we have to work harder to help them!
One of stories impressed us a lot was the story about Phan Van Phong, ten-year-old boy, lives in Vinh Thanh province. His appearance caught my eyes: he looked thin and pale, he was wearing a long sleeve shirt with a trousers and the special thing was that his face expressed no feeling. We tried to talk with him but he was not willing to respond. His father had to explain more for the questions we asked him. Phong is the first child in family, he has two other siblings. His parents are freelancing labor so their income is low and unstable. Phong should have been in the 5th grade but because of bad health, he cannot walk to school. It takes 1 hour for him to go to school on foot! Although his mind is strong, the body is not strong enough to stand it everyday. We asked about his dream as the last question and he said that he dreams of a healthy heart because he loves school, he loves knowledge and more important thing is that he would like to be a doctor! It is a good dream and should be encouraged.
Writers: Nguyen Ngoc Minh Thu, Tran Thi Quynh My