JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Elderly Vietnamese woman’s constant fight to keep terminally ill daughter alive

Sunday, March 21, 2021, 09:39 GMT+7
Elderly Vietnamese woman’s constant fight to keep terminally ill daughter alive
There are occasions when Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam (seated) is nearing death, but she fights on, with her mother, Tran Thi Ut, a constant companion and caretaker, always by her side. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

For nearly two decades, this woman from Binh Duong Province, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City, has pushed herself to the limit running all kinds of errands, including peddling lottery tickets, to pay hospital bills and keep her daughter suffering from kidney disease alive for as long as possible while caring for her other child stricken with mental illness.

For Tran Thi Ut, a 68-year-old from Lai Thieu Ward of Thuan An City in Binh Duong Province, approximately 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, daily caretaking routines for her 31-year-old daughter, Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam, are just part of a lifetime of sacrifices that she, as a single parent, has made for her two children.

Tran Thi Ut (left) is always on standby to tend to her daughter after the dialysis sessions. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Ut (left) is always on standby to tend to her daughter after her dialysis sessions. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Tam has to undergo renal dialysis – the process of cleaning toxins from the blood using a special machine because of poorly functioning kidneys – three times a week at Cho Ray Hospital in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, as much-needed treatment for the kidney disease she has suffered for nearly 20 years.

Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam is undergoing a renal dialysis at Cho Ray Hospital’s Artificial Kidney Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam is undergoing renal dialysis at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Instead of a peaceful retirement, this silver-haired single mother has pushed herself forward doing all kinds of odd jobs with a single goal in mind: to keep her beloved daughter free of pain and as healthy as possible.

Together the duo have braved poverty and battled the debilitating illness, which has left Tam weighing less than 35 kilograms and looking older than her age.

Renal dialysis sessions and surgeries undergone for nearly 20 years have left Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam’s arm (right) riddled with scars. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Renal dialysis sessions and surgeries undergone for nearly 20 years have left Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam’s arm (right) riddled with scars. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

There are times when Tam’s illness deteriorated to a point that she fell into a coma. 

Somehow the young woman managed to hold on, with her mother always by her side.

Three times a week, Tam and Ut take a bus from their home to the hospital for kidney dialysis.

While her daughter is receiving the treatment, Ut makes her modest income from selling lottery tickets and carrying patients or their caretaker relatives to bus stops or designated locations on her torn-down bicycle to pay for hospital bills.

“I’m paid VND10,000 [US$0.4] each time or sometimes double the sum by generous customers,” Ut said.

Money earned from both providing xe dap om (bicycle taxi) service and peddling lottery tickets is just enough for them to get by, the old woman added.

“I’m willing to do any errands to cover my children’s medical bills as long as I’m not violating the laws,” she said.

Ut shared she has been the sole breadwinner and caregiver to her children since the day her husband walked away following their daughter’s diagnosis of kidney disease.

Tran Thi Ut works as a xe dap om (bicycle taxi) driver for supplemented income. Photo: Duyen Phan/ Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Ut works as a xe dap om (bicycle taxi) driver for a supplemental income. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The whole world seemed to be against her then, and until now she has not been out of the woods yet.

There were times when she was really down but those feelings quickly washed away as she saw her daughter’s smiles and realized how important her work was to helping her daughter survive and stay motivated.

Tran Thi Ut works as a xe dap om (bicycle taxi) driver for supplemented income. Photo: Duyen Phan/ Tuoi Tre

While her daughter is receiving dialysis, Tran Thi Ut (left) earns her meager income by peddling lottery tickets. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Tam is overwhelmingly grateful for her mother’s sacrifice.

“Mom is the best” is how she describes her loving mother.

68-year-old Tran Thi Ut shared she has been a long-time vegetarian for her own peace of mind. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

68-year-old Tran Thi Ut shared she has been a long-time vegetarian for her own peace of mind. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The mother’s and daughter’s shadows are cast on the ground in the afternoon sunshine. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The mother’s and daughter’s shadows are cast on the ground in the afternoon sunshine. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Despite being in her early 30s, Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam only feels at ease in her mother’s company. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Despite being in her early 30s, Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam only feels at ease in her mother’s company. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The mother and daughter ride a bus back to their home, located in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam after a long hard day. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The mother and daughter ride a bus back to their home, located in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam after a long hard day. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

68-year-old Tran Thi Ut (left) remains in high spirit no matter how harsh life is. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

68-year-old Tran Thi Ut (left) remains in high spirits no matter how harsh life is. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam’s greatest wish is that her elderly mother stays healthy to side with her and get her ready for what life throws at. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam’s greatest wish is that her elderly mother stays healthy to side with her and get her ready for what life throws at her. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

With her emaciated body weakened by the debilitating kidney disease, Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam sometimes resorts to a wheelchair and her mother’s assistance to get around. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

With her emaciated body weakened by the debilitating kidney disease, Nguyen Thi Nhu Tam sometimes resorts to a wheelchair and her mother’s assistance to get around. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Ngoc Hanh - Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre News

More

Read more

Mario's trip to his Vietnamese homeland

Mario “Smasho” Vasko, an attractive half-Vietnamese guitarist, keyboardist, and background vocalist, is preparing his band for more performances in his fatherland

4 years ago
;

Photos

VIDEOS

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Latest news

Table Mountain wildfire threatens University of Cape Town

A wildfire on the slopes of South Africa's Table Mountain forced University of Cape Town students to evacuate on Sunday, as runaway flames set several campus buildings ablaze and firefighters used helicopters to water-bomb the area