Children of vietnam


Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh Nguyễn Hoài Phương Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Ánh Trần Nhuận Điền Nguyễn Đức Tân
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Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh


FV Hospital sends hope to underprivileged youngsters

When lighting an oil lamp for the family dinner one evening in 2005, the mother of Nguyen Huu Phuoc could never conceive that it would take seven years later and the efforts of doctors at FV Hospital (FVH) before the dim flame would stop devastating her son.

A big accident from a small flame

When the oil lamp fell to the table, it quickly engulfed the seven-year-old boy in flames, turning him into a live torch . His family and neighbours rushed to put out the fire and take him to hospital in their district hospital in Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta for emergency treatment. There, doctors said he was suffering second-degree burns and 70 per cent of the skin on his body was severely burnt, that his life was hanging on a thread, and he should be transferred to a provincial hospital immediately.

But it was too difficult for his family to get enough money for his treatment. Even though they borrowed money everywhere they could, they could only afford to take Phuoc as far as Ho Chi Minh City. The family with three small children was known to be very poor and it had been very hard for them to support themselves. In order to get enough money for their children’s education, his father worked as a contractor digging, carrying soil and shaving wood every day, while his mother had raised chickens and ducks at home. With his polite behaviour and manners and his heartfelt passion for learning, Phuoc had been the big hope of his family. But after the accident, his family was even more impoverished.

A lack of money forced his parents to stop Phuoc’s treatment. Phuoc later recovered bit by bit, but suffered many complications. The burn scars overlapped together from his ear and face to his chest area making him unable to turn or raise his head like a normal child. His left hand was also deformed. His abnormality caused him many difficulties in his day to day life and studies, and over time he also felt more and more embarrassed and ashamed of his appearance.

Revive a dream

Due to his family’s financial difficulties, Phuoc’s treatment was dependent on funds from sponsors. He underwent two treatments at Cho Ray Hospital to separate the folds of stuck together skin in his neck. His parents, teachers and friends comforted him so that he could return to his daily life with continuing to wait for further support from international world health sponsors

After learning of his case in November 2012, Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund (jointly run by FVH and Thanh Nien Daily Newspaper) arranged for Phuoc to have a consultation with French plastic surgery specialist Dr. Elisabeth Hodin at FVH. Dr. Hodin decided to operate on him the following day. He underwent a cheek skin graft and a skin graft under his chin to help him move his head and neck, and an orthopaedic surgery to restore the structure of his face.

“The surgery was very successful!” said Dr. Hodin happily. Now Phuoc can lift his head, and while it is still difficult for him to turn his head down and to the side, he is recovering well. In addition, doctors at FVH are trying to carry out other surgeries to separate his ear skin and make his ears a more normal shape.

After seven years, the legacy of the malicious flame has finally been stamped out and his hopes have been revived. Phuoc has a strong achievement record for studying so hard for many years, and the student now in Grade 9 says: “I will try my best to learn and work hard so that I can get a stable job after I am grown up and support my parents!”

Listening to his simple dream, his mother cannot stop herself from crying and FVH’s doctors also feel touched. It is believed that this well-mannered boy with a great sense of determination will fulfill his expectations and the hopes of his parents very soon.