Vietnamese man gives 10,000 poor patients money for treatment

‘I feel life less difficult and harsh after seeing the children’s smile’

Le Minh Hien is seen with a boy he helped in this provided photo.

A medical worker in Ho Chi Minh City has been the person to whom thousands are indebted as he has raised funds to cover the medical costs of poverty-stricken patients over the past ten years. 

Le Minh Hien, deputy head of the coordinating unit for human transplant at Cho Ray Hospital, a major medical institution in Ho Chi Minh City, often takes a ride to infirmaries in southern Vietnamese provinces on the weekend.

Hien’s purpose is simple: to seek underprivileged patients, especially ones who are children with congenital heart condition, and bring them Cho Ray Hospital for free operations.

The outreach effort has lasted for three years, during which he came to the help of more than 200 people, but his community-welfare spirit started much earlier, nearly ten years ago.

During a decade, he has cumulatively solicited over VND80 billion (US$3.44 million) – a sum that covered medical treatment fees for over 10,000 poor patients, including hundreds of children.

Hien said he promised himself that he tried every way to find financial donors to help patients in serious difficulty.

He has built a great trust amongst the community, enough to enable him to receive assistance from benefactors whenever he needs.

Apart from pictures of his own daughter, most posts on Hien’s Facebook page are stories of children that have undergone cardiac surgeries and people in poverty and distress, his search trips and service information in the hospital.

After almost every meeting with poor patients on the trips, his conscience pricked him as he did not know how to help as many unfortunate patients as he had expected.

Cases that show Hien’s kindness are many.

On a search journey in early 2017, Hien talked to a petite sixth grader living with her mother, who worked as a manual laborer.

The girl with heart disease, unable to fight tears, told Hien that she had no money for a surgery that she had been recommended, after the man offered to take her to Cho Ray Hospital for treatment, he recalled, visibly touched by the memory.

A girl that Le Minh Hien helped leans against him in this provided photo.
A girl that Le Minh Hien helped leans against him in this provided photo.

He smiled at remembering another girl he helped in mid-2018, who felt his care so strongly that she wanted to be with him when staying in the hospital.

A case that he recollected vividly took place in 2007, when he urgently asked for money from benefactors to rescue a two-year-old boy hospitalized with brain injury after his mentally deranged mother threw him through the window of a running bus.

“It’s been 11 years. He often gives me phone calls,” Hien said of the child.

An 18-year-old boy known as Toan was expected by his parents to be free of disease in a family where all his other siblings were unhealthy and retarded, but he was later found to be developing heart conditions.

Hien committed himself to obtaining financial contributions from various people to pay the hospital fees for Toan.

Six months after the treatment, Hien was unable to recognize Toan, who looked very handsome and radiant with health.

“In 2017 before he was going to get married, he paid me a visit in Ho Chi Minh City. Toan brought his wife-to-be with him when meeting me,” Hien said.

Hien added he was lucky to do his patient welfare job.

“I feel life less difficult and harsh after seeing the children’s smile. My cellphone is full of pictures of them. They all remember my name.

“That is the motivational source that enables me to do more for the patients.”

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