Hanoi boy given chance to live with heart transplant from road crash victim

By Ha An   March 22, 2017 | 12:43 am PT
Hanoi boy given chance to live with heart transplant from road crash victim
Doctors perform the heart transplant at Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of the hospital
‘My son gets to live only because another family lost theirs,’ his mother said.

A 10-year-old boy in Hanoi has become the youngest patient in Vietnam to receive a heart transplant, entering a short list of Vietnamese people saved by organ donations.

The boy is in intensive care at Viet Duc Hospital after undergoing 10-hour surgery to have the heart of a 19-year-old man placed in his chest on March 15.

Doctors said the hardest part was to put an adult heart into the small chest of a child, but given the limited source of donors in Vietnam, it was a “golden” opportunity to save him.

“Doctors said my son is already awake, but he is still weak,” said Phuong, the patient’s mother, as she waited anxiously outside the intensive care room.

She has only seen her son once through the glass door after the surgery, and is waiting for doctors to ask her to buy him more milk which would mean he is getting stronger.

Phuong said her son seemed completely normal except that he was smaller than most of his friends.

He started coughing heavily six months ago, so he was taken to hospital where doctors diagnosed him with the final stages of heart failure.

A heart transplant is the only way to save him, doctors told her.

Phuong said when doctors found a compatible donor, she and her husband immediately took the offer. Her son had lost 80 percent of his heart function by then.

The whole procedure is expected to cost between VND700 million-1 billion ($30,700-44,000), which Phuong said is beyond her family’s financial means, but is worth it to keep her son alive.

Phuong said she wants to find the family of the donor, who died in a road crash, to say thanks.

“I know many people die waiting for a heart. My son gets to live only because another family lost theirs.”

The man also donated his liver and kidneys, which could save three more people.

Doctors at Viet Duc Hospital said they receive two or three brain-dead patients every day, but have only received donated organs from 30 over the last five years.

Not all families agree to give up the bodies of their parents or children, they said.

More than 6,000 people with kidney failure are waiting for donors in Vietnam. There also 1,500 heart patients on the waiting list and 300,000 blind people. More than 1,000 patients have received donations since the first transplant in 2006, and most donors were family members.

Related news:

>Vietnam’s first lung transplant succeeds

>Roughly 16,000 patients await organs in Vietnam

go to top