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Poor Vietnamese girl enters medical college despite blood disorder

Saturday, August 17, 2019, 13:25 GMT+7
Poor Vietnamese girl enters medical college despite blood disorder
Lam Thi Tuyet Nghi helps her mother at their house in Ben Tre, southern Vietnam. Photo: Lu The Nha

A Vietnamese girl born with a blood disorder has made it to a medical junior college in Ho Chi Minh City despite her poor health and the financial struggle of her family.

Lam Thi Tuyet Nghi was accepted to the Ho Chi Minh City chapter of the Pasteur College of Medicine and Pharmacy after graduating from Le Anh Xuan High School in her hometown of Ben Tre Province in the Mekong Delta.

While the family was overwhelmed with congratulations from everyone in their village in Mo Cay Bac District, they are more concerned by monetary issues - how to finance her studies and her medical expenses.

Another worry is who will take care of the little girl as Nghi’s illness often makes her tired and dizzy, according to her mother, Nguyen Moc Thu.

“Nghi’s graduation from high school and admission to a medical school is the greatest joy of the family,” Thu said.

“But we are also worried about the tuition for her three years at college.”

Nghi had to pay VND7 million (US$300) in school fees for her first academic year, which begins next month, but the family could only afford VND4 million ($170), according to the mother.

In 2011, Nghi was diagnosed with thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder causing fewer red blood cells in her body than normal, requiring her to have regular blood transfusion.

Since then, the family’s biggest monthly expense has been to cover her medical treatment, which keeps her alive but with a very weak physical strength.

Nghi’s family is one of the poorest in Tan Phu Tay Commune in Mo Cay Bac District. The household does not own any farming land, and her father has to struggle to put meals on the table every day due to his poor health.

Nghi’s mother works for a local establishment that turns coconut leaves into house roof.

The family had initially had to borrow from different sources to be able to take Nghi to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for her blood transfusion.

The situation has been quite relieved from 2013, when the family was classified as a poor household, thus eligible to a monthly financial support from local authorities.

Even so, the family still has to pay for medicine and blood tests, which costs over VND1 million ($43) every time Nghi goes to the hospital.

Lam Thi Tuyet Nghi prepares to take medicines for her blood disorder at her house in Ben Tre, southern Vietnam. Photo: Lu The Nha
Lam Thi Tuyet Nghi prepares to take medicines for her blood disorder at her house in Ben Tre, southern Vietnam. Photo: Lu The Nha

Nghi would always play close attention in classes as a way to make up for the days she was absent.

Whenever Nghi has to travel to Ho Chi Minh City for blood transfusion, she would ask her classmates to take notes for her and help explaining the lessons afterwards so that she could keep up with her peers.

Nghi even helped her mother with coconut leaf-processing work even though it is a physically demanding task, just to help family earn some extra money.

“Nghi is an excellent student, and always does her best to overcome her illness to study,” Nguyen Minh Tam, Nghi’s head teacher in grade 12, said.

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