Holis­tic way helps kids with heart dis­eases

Ñoã Troïng Hieáu, 14, is the 3,000th “heart child” of the Vi­naCap­i­tal Foun­da­tion’s ‘Heart­beat” pro­gramme. The teenager, who suf­fered the added com­pli­ca­tion of con­gen­i­tally dis­lo­cated knees, will have surgery next week that will put his life back on track

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In­ner Sanc­tum: What is new for Vi­naCap­i­tal Foun­da­tion's heart­beat pro­gramme this year?

This year, we have been more suc­cess­ful with our fund-rais­ing schemes. More­over, we have al­ready com­pleted over 500 cases com­pared with last year. This num­ber helps bring the to­tal to more than 3,800.

In­ner Sanc­tum: How many chil­dren are ex­pected to ben­e­fit from the pro­gramme this year? Where are they liv­ing? What are their par­ents' cir­cum­stances?

We hope to com­plete at least 550 cases be­fore De­cem­ber 31. We help chil­dren in all prov­inces of Vieät Nam. The num­ber of ben­e­fi­cia­ries de­pends on the data given by our part­ners. We also setup out­reach clin­ics and have dis­cov­ered over 5,000 chil­dren in need of surgery. We also have nu­mer­ous walk-in cases, many of which are im­mi­grants work­ing in HCM City. Th­ese chil­dren can­not ob­tain as­sis­tance from their home prov­inces be­cause they are cur­rently liv­ing in the city. All of their par­ents are poor and live ev­ery day in fear that their child might die be­fore they can seek help. There are so many other chil­dren who need our help!

In­ner Sanc­tum: What has VCF done to im­prove car­diac and pae­di­atric care in Vieät Nam?

We have tried to take a holis­tic ap­proach in help­ing chil­dren ac­cess care, search­ing for un­di­ag­nosed cases, train­ing doc­tors, sur­geons and nurses on bet­ter tech­niques to treat the pa­tients, and pro­vid­ing equip­ment that will help cater to more cases. We are cur­rently at­tempt­ing to raise funds for Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal 1, which is build­ing a new car­diac ICU for the heart pa­tients. They are in need of equip­ment and new beds. Ev­ery new bed will al­low them to per­form 100 ad­di­tional surg­eries an­nu­ally. Each bed needs a ven­ti­la­tor, a car­diac mon­i­tor and 10 in­fu­sion pumps.

In­ner Sanc­tum: You have ex­erted tire­less ef­forts in such char­ity pro­gramme since 2006. What cases in­volv­ing chil­dren with heart dis­eases made the strong­est im­pres­sion on you?

The dif­fi­cult cases are the ones I fight for. Not many char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions will work on the dif­fi­cult, ur­gent and ex­pen­sive cases. We con­stantly strive to at­tend to the se­ri­ous cases first. It is not al­ways easy to find a heart cen­tre will­ing to take on the se­vere cases. There are sev­eral very ad­vanced heart cen­tres here, but they all aim to solve as many cases as pos­si­ble. A dif­fi­cult case can tie up an ICU bed for a long time, which will re­sult in fewer cases ac­com­mo­dated by the pro­gramme. There­fore, if we can in­crease the num­ber of ICU beds, then more cases will be served. In ad­di­tion, more dif­fi­cult cases will be ac­com­mo­dated.

In­ner Sanc­tum: Have you re­ceived any feed­back from the first op­er­ated cases since the pro­gramme started nine years ago? Did th­ese chil­dren grow up well and healthy?

Our on­go­ing ret­ro­spec- tive study of almost 2,000 of our 3,800 ben­e­fi­cia­ries shows that over 85 per cent live a nor­mal life with no com­pli­ca­tions. Lo­cal sur­geons are quite skilled now.

One of our ben­e­fi­cia­ries from the 2007 surg­eries is cur­rently study­ing in the univer­sity. His name is Nguyeãn Ngoïc Haûi. He played sports through­out his school life. He re­cently joined the Cale­do­nia City Run for Heart Kids in his school. We are for­tu­nate to have been able to keep in touch with a lot of th­ese chil­dren. We are truly happy when the chil­dren come back to see us.

In­ner Sanc­tum: What do you think of Heart­beat Vieät Nam Am­bas­sador Ngoâ Thanh Vaân, her ini­tia­tive to raise funds to support the heart surg­eries and her ex­pe­ri­ence with the pro­gramme?

Vaân is ab­so­lute magic. Her heart is so full of love for th­ese chil­dren. She gives us an amaz­ing amount of her time and tal­ent each year to save the chil­dren. She has also raised funds to save more than 1,000 chil­dren thus far. We all love her so much for what she has helped us do.

In­ner Sanc­tum: Can you say some­thing about VCF in Vieät Nam?

I have been here in the coun­try for 11 years. I truly love this place, and I es­pe­cially en­joy work­ing with the amaz­ing young Viet­namese peo­ple. We still have a lot of work to do in the coun­try. It is won­der­ful that the econ­omy has sub­stan­tially im­proved. How­ever, there are so many poor par­ents in the coun­try­side who still have no money to pay for the care of their chil­dren. Some chil­dren still do not have the means to gain ac­cess to qual­ity care. We are al­ways de­lighted when we find th­ese chil­dren and help them be­fore it is too late. Thank you, Vieät Nam

News for help­ing us get the word out to the pub­lic. We would love to im­press upon any­one who can do­nate money to help th­ese chil­dren get the care they need to live the nor­mal lives they de­serve.

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