In the chilly September of Dien Bien Dong district, the District Medical Center welcomed a very young mother who was giving birth to her first child. Luong Thi Thanh, a young woman from the Thai ethnic group, was just fifteen years old when she became pregnant. The baby’s father was only seventeen. Early marriages like Thanh’s were not uncommon in the highlands, where harmful customs persisted, resulting in severe consequences for the health of both mothers and minority children.

At a young age, Thanh had limited knowledge of prenatal care. Her frail physique and the challenging life she led, combined with a treacherous journey of over 50 kilometers along winding mountain roads from Chong A village, Xa Dung commune, to the Medical Center, had left her in critical condition upon arrival. Thanh had to undergo a cesarean section, and her baby, weighing only 2.5 kilograms, weakly cried as she entered the world. Her parents lovingly named her Bao Uyen.

However, their joy was short-lived as Bao Uyen began to show symptoms of jaundice, a dangerous condition often seen in newborns. Without prompt treatment, there was a high risk of lifelong complications or even the loss of her life. In urban areas with well-established healthcare facilities, jaundice is easily managed with equipment like phototherapy machines. However, in Dien Bien Dong, doctors faced a shortage of essential equipment. The economic conditions in the district and the province of Dien Bien were challenging, with the average income of residents being only 22 million VND per year, the lowest in the country.

Without timely support from generous donors to assist the healthcare team in Dien Bien Dong, babies like Bao Uyen had only one chance – to be transferred promptly to higher-level hospitals. This long journey posed numerous risks for a baby who was only a few days old.

Fortunately, on the day Thanh gave birth, the obstetrics ward at the Health Center was equipped with the necessary machines to care for newborns, thanks to the fundraising and sponsorship from the VinaCapital Foundation’s Survive to Thrive program. Bao Uyen underwent intensive treatment with an incubator and phototherapy for five consecutive days. Her skin gradually regained a healthy pink hue, the perilous symptoms disappeared, and her breathing became stronger as she returned to her mother’s loving embrace. Bao Uyen’s story is a fairy tale with a happy ending, and we hope she grows up healthy and peaceful.

The Survive to Thrive program takes pride in its 13-year journey of fundraising and implementing projects to provide essential medical equipment for maternal and neonatal care and to conduct training to enhance neonatal emergency response capabilities across the country, especially in remote and underserved rural districts. To date, the program’s efforts have helped over 41,000 babies receive timely treatment in their precious first moments.

Witnessing tiny lives like Bao Uyen being discharged from the hospital in good health brings immense joy to the dedicated team of the VinaCapital Foundation’s Survive to Thrive program on their mission to save the lives of young children. Let us join hands to preserve the breath of premature and newborn babies in the most challenging regions of our country.

Donate now to VCF’s Survive to Thrive program at:

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