Click on a link below to read the inspiring stories of some of the special people we’ve had the privilege of helping.
A desperate father trying to save his son Nguyen Anh Khoa’s life helped set in motion one of the quickest turnaround times by HBVN.
It began with an urgent, heart-wrenching call from a father about his son: a three-year-old with purple lips.
It was also one of the fastest responses by Heartbeat Vietnam.
“The whole process just happened in one call,” said Chau Nguyen, program manager at Heartbeat Vietnam. “The trauma of a 24-year-old father losing his first son showed through in every single word, every single breath, on the phone. You could tell he was trying his best to do everything to save his child.”
Heartbeat Vietnam had received an application from Yume (partners with HBVN in raising funds for heart surgeries in Vietnam) regarding Anh Khoa. HBVN then contacted the family to bring Khoa into the hospital for check ups and for completing the application for the surgery.
This story touched many people, including Nguyen, who has worked with HBVN for four years.
“Every day I see many stories about the poor kids, but my soul was in very deep pain when I got the call from Khoa’s father asking for urgent help for his son,” she said.
Khoa’s full application was sent in on the morning of November 30, 2009. That afternoon, his father, Nguyen Anh Tuan, called HBVN. He was very worried.
“After the check up, the doctor said he had clotted blood,” Anh Tuan said. “He needed to be operated on immediately or else he would die anytime if he fell down.”
Khoa’s father works at a textile factory while his mother stays at home to take care of Khoa. At $3,155 USD, the surgery is financially impossible for the family.
After the check up, Khoa was admitted immediately into the hospital. The parents appealed for help everywhere. They were able to raise $1,150 USD through donations from the father’s work place and from relatives. The father then called HBVN to help with the rest.
It typically takes quite a bit of time to process an application, including receiving, considering and putting the application in the system, said Nguyen.
“But sometimes in life, you have to face that moment when every procedure, every regulation, every process seems meaningless because if you delay, that moment of hesitation may mean that the child’s life is gone forever,” she said.
Nguyen said HBVN is dedicated to one thing: giving life-saving heart surgery to poor children in Vietnam as soon as possible.
Khoa’s case was difficult, but on December 2, 2009 he was successfully operated on and he continues to recover.
“I am waiting for the moment when Khoa’s lips change from purple to pink,” said Nguyen. “I am so thankful for all the donors for being with Heartbeat Vietnam on the Heart Journey. It’s emotional and tiring, but extremely rewarding.”
Anh Khoa is the 1,222th child to be saved by HBVN.
Meet Nguyen Anh Tien, the first Heartbeat Vietnam child whose surgery was funded by donations from Facebook …
Thanks to all of your generosity, Heartbeat Vietnam would like you to meet our first open-heart surgery recipient through Facebook Causes: Nguyen Anh Tien.
Seven-year-old Anh Tien’s story unfolds in Tien Giang Province, part of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.
From the start, the odds were against her.
She was born with a congenital heart disease. Her father, Nguyen Van Mai, 44, formerly a mason, is now working as a farmer. He earns about 70,000 to 80,000 VND ($3.78 to $4.32 USD) a day. Her mother, Nguyen Thi Thanh Ly, 37, stays at home to take care of Tien and her brother. Although her parents knew of her heart condition, they could barely stretch their income to cover the family’s daily expenses, let alone pay for open-heart surgery, which can cost up to $3,000 USD.
“I work hard everyday, but it is never enough,” said her father. “She really needed surgery, but there was no way to do it. We felt sick with anxiety.”
Anh Tien’s beautiful round eyes peer through the gaping holes of her poorly thatched home. Random pieces of wood nailed together provide little to no protection against the massive floods during flood season, which her family suffers through each year.
But despite her poverty and health issues, including dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, Anh Tien is still an extremely dedicated and good student. Her favorite subject is math. She consistently receives top marks. She would often avoid hospitals so that she would never miss class at school. However, when her health severely deteriorated, she finally went to the hospital.
The Diagnosis and Heartbeat Vietnam
Anh Tien suffers from Ventricular Septal defect (VSD), a common congenital heart defect (CHD) that occurs when there is a hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart. Symptoms of VSD include shortness of breath, fast heartbeats, loss of appetite, poor weight gain, chest pain, and discolored blue skin. In addition, other areas of the child’s development such as physical growth and brain development are affected if VSD is left untreated, and the child also has a high chance of developing irreversible pulmonary hypertension.
In order to be eligible for heart surgery funding through HBVN, children must be 1) diagnosed by and request heart surgery from a cardiologist of a licensed clinic or hospital in Vietnam, and 2) be officially recognized as “living in poverty” and possess a poverty certificate. Fortunately, Anh Tien met both of the criteria and was scheduled for surgery at Tam Duc Hospital in October 29, 2009. She was released November 6, 2009.
Sitting quietly, with a bandage on her chest, Anh Tien smiles shyly.
“I’m so glad that Anh Tien was chosen to receive this heart surgery,” her mother said. “We know that this will help her future. We hope that Tien will have a normal and productive life with her stronger heart.”
Learn more about Heartbeat Vietnam
Through matching funds from several sources, Heartbeat Vietnam, facilitates heart surgeries for children who desperately need them.
Whether it is $1 or $10 or more, every little bit helps. Thank you for your contributions! Please help us save more lives.
Donate today—just $500 will save the life of a child like Anh Tien
Nguyen Van Thang is nine-years-old and just finished second grade. He lives in the coastal town of Nha Trang with his mother, grandmother, and 10-month-old brother. Thang’s father, Bui Van Tri, spends much of his time away from his family, as he is a fisherman and works up and down the coastline. His income is about 400,000VND (~$23USD) per month; however, this salary is seasonal and there are months when he earns nothing at all.
Thang’s mother, Nguyen Thi Bach Tuyet, is 31-years-old and is a housewife. She cannot work as she must look after Thang, his brother, and his grandmother. Therefore, the family of five is solely dependent on Thang’s father’s income. The family lives in a lean-to extension of Thang’s uncle’s house that is just eight square meters with a tin roof, cement floor, and brick walls.
The Diagnosis and Heartbeat Vietnam
Thang suffers from Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), a common congenital heart defect (CHD) that occurs when there is a hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart. Symptoms of VSD include shortness of breath, fast heartbeats, loss of appetite, poor weight gain, chest pain, and discolored blue skin. In addition, other areas of the child’s development such as physical growth and brain development are affected if VSD is left untreated, and the child also has a high chance of developing irreversible pulmonary hypertension.
Thang was diagnosed with VSD when he was just two-months-old. He and Tuyet, his mother, made the arduous 10-hour trek from Nha Trang to the Heart Institute in Ho Chi Minh City at least five times over the course of his life, and the diagnosis was always the same: Surgery, or else he would die. Lifesaving surgery, however, was out of the question as it cost $3,100USD—a sum that was beyond anything Thang’s family could scrape together. After each hospital visit Tuyet would make the long bus journey back to Nha Trang with her son, wondering how much time he had left to live before his heart would give out.
The VinaCapital Foundation’s (VCF) local partner in Nha Trang, the Sponsorial Association for Poor Patients (SAPP), passed along Thang’s case file in early 2009 in the hope that we could assist him through our Heartbeat Vietnam (HBVN) program. In order to be eligible for heart surgery funding through HBVN, children must be 1) diagnosed by and request heart surgery from a cardiologist of a licensed clinic or hospital in Vietnam, and 2) be officially recognized as “living in poverty” and possess a poverty certificate. Happily, Thang met both of the criteria and was scheduled for surgery at University Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on March 14, 2009.
Prior to the surgery, we visited Thang and his mother at their home in Nha Trang as well as in the hospital. On paper, Thang’s story is similar to that of thousands of other poor children suffering from CHDs in Vietnam, but in person, he is a sparkling ball of life in a very tiny body. He weighed just 16 kilograms (35 lbs.) due to the effects of VSD on his appetite and body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and the fact that his parents cannot afford to feed him more than rice and vegetable broth twice a day. Thang is physically fragile, but he is alert, inquisitive, and carries a certain gravity in his eyes borne of life-or-death suffering that belies his age.
Thang is more terrified of the monkeys that live around his house than of hospitals and needles and big medical machines. He doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t necessarily fear death. We asked him what his greatest wish was, and it was to have heart surgery so that he could get healthier and play with the neighborhood boys. It turns out Thang’s only friends are the neighborhood girls who make him play with their dolls, as he is too weak to run around outside and play with the boys.
Tuyet’s wishes for her son are just like that of any other mother in the world. She wants Thang to grow up healthy and strong, to go to college and find a good job that will enable him to break out of the poverty cycle that trapped her and her husband, both of whom left school in third grade to work. “Just because we don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean that we love our son less than any other parent,” says Tuyet, her voice cracking. “Thang is my son, my flesh and blood. I would give my life for him if I could.”
Coming soon: Thang’s Surgery and the Aftermath
Thang’s Journey: A Slideshow
Nguyen Duy Hao is a shy boy living in the Bin Dinh province of Vietnam. He lives in a very cramped home with his father, mother, 3 older sisters, 2 older brothers and 1 younger sister. The income of the father and mother is 1.5 million VND (only around 70 USD), and it clearly cannot sustain the well being of 9 people. They are only able to spend at most 2 USD on food for all 9 people each day, they have to share 2 bicycles and 1 motorcycle and they use the river as their toilet. There was no way the parents could afford to pay for a surgery. This was what they needed though when Hao was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. The father was terrified when he found out but he never gave up hope. In his own words he said, “When its your kid, you cant stop trying”. And it paid off. The family found out Hao was eligible to receive a surgery thanks to Heartbeat Vietnam and its local partner. The father described the euphoric feeling as winning the lottery. Even better than winning the lottery: Finding out that the surgery and recovery went along 100 % smoothly.
The interview we have with the family is different than others. The father is smiling, happily answering questions, yet Hao is looking down and fiddling with his fingers. He is not accustomed to others asking such personal questions. When asked about the operation, Hao is emotional and he has to wipe tears from his face. He will only answer certain questions and his father helps answer the rest. The father tells us his son is healthy and only has minor breathing problems, but this is nothing compared to what would have happened if a heart surgery was postponed even longer, since Hao is already 14. Hao is able to tell us that soccer was something he longed to play when he was in hospital, but the thing he truly missed the most was his grandmother. This explained the emotions that were pouring out. His grandmother very recently passed away, but the family knows if she were with them, she would be extremely happy that her grandson was well again.
When we ask Hao lighter questions, he begins opening up and building up confidence. He says he doesnt have any trouble socializing with friends, something that may have been affected if a surgery was not done. He even has a girlfriend and this question lets us catch a glimpse of Hao’s smile. He says he felt the best when his friends went to see him immediately after being released from the hospital, he never felt that much love for him before. Hao does not have any big dreams on what he wants to be yet, but the father gives an answer that is probably the most underrated quality that can be found. He wants Hao to be a good person, its as simple as that. However, he is very direct in saying that for people like them, they concentrate on the day to day aspects, they do not think of the big picture. This is something that needs to be worked at and can be changed. Hao needs to know not only can he be a big dreamer but he make them come true too. He has the ability to do this because he is excelling at school and is a great learner.
His greatest new discovery about himself is something that many of us take for granted. He is strong and healthy. Clearly, his father is just as happy about his son’s health as Hao is. The two seemed to be joined at the hip. When Hao was sick, his father quit his job as a farmer to care for him. When Hao began crying earlier on, his father comforted him. When Hao was too choked up to answer any questions, his father guided him. Many others would be oblivious to this, but not Hao. The greatest thing he considers about his mother and father is their humility and their willingness to sacrifice everything for him. That is something that cannot be taught.
On October 31, 2011, VCF and Heartbeat Vietnam reached a wonderful milestone when our 2,500th beneficiary received her lifesaving heart operation. Four-year-old Tran Nguyen Nhu Y, from Ba Ria Vung Tau Province, has lived a difficult life in her short years. Her parents divorced when she was three-months-old, after which her father completely abandoned her. After one year, Nhu Y’s mother also left her; rumors are that she was suffering from cancer and was ashamed of her illness. She does not allow anyone to know her location, which means that Nhu Y will never know about her mother’s pain or feel mother’s love.
Nhu Y was left to her grandparents with a weak, severely damaged heart. Her grandparents have been trying their best to raise her, but their situation is desperate. They had to borrow 50 million VND ($2,500 USD) to build a house, but they barely make enough to put food on the table let alone pay off their debt. Nhu Y’s grandfather suffers from kidney stones and raises cows for a living; unfortunately, two calves died this year which means the family has no income. Nhu Y’s grandmother takes any job that allows her to feed her family; she suffers from chronic spinal pain. There are times when they cannot buy even a few kilograms of rice. In addition, they used up their last remaining funds to pay for Nhu Y’s medical exams and travel to the hospital. The doctors told Nhu Y’s grandparents that their granddaughter needed heart surgery as soon as possible to save her life, but her grandparents couldn’t afford for such an expensive operation. Nhu Y’s case was brought to Heartbeat Vietnam, and we arranged for her to receive her operation as quickly as possible.
Nhu Y was admitted to the University Medical Center of Ho Chi Minh City, where she received care from some of the country’s top cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. Her surgery was performed on Halloween by Dr. Dinh, the hospital’s Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and just a few days later she was already out of her bed and running around. Nhu Y is a sweet and spirited little girl who has suffered so much in her short life, and we are grateful to be able to play a small part in helping her get a second chance at life!