A man from a poor family in northern Vietnam decided to forgo surgery and give the chance to his younger brother, though doctors considered the older sibling’s disease more serious.
Hoang Dinh Hanh, 29, and Hoang Dinh Hien, 23, both suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis which hobbles their walk and causes pain as it stiffens the joints surrounding the groin.
Their mother, Bui Thi Dao, has been trying to find a cure for her two boys since their diseases first took hold. Dozens of trips to hospitals and physicians in and around their hometown in Thai Binh Province, about 100 kilometers from Hanoi, yielded no results.
The older sibling, Hanh, is literate but cannot attend school while his younger brother Hien is temporarily deferring his education at a medical vocational college.
|Hoang Dinh Hien with his mother at a hospital in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Dao shared that she used to take Hien to and from high school by bicycle each day, traveling over seven kilometers, rain or shine.
Doctors at a major hospital in Hanoi recommended surgery on Hanh’s pelvis a few months ago, but he chose not to show up for the procedure.
A short time later, Hien went into a four-day coma and had to be taken to the same infirmary where doctors suggested he undergo hip-joint-replacement surgery.
Dao’s husband, a farmer, warned her that the family would not be able to afford any medical expenses exceeding VND20 million ($860), a sum too small to cover surgeries for both children.
|Hoang Dinh Hoanh is cared for by his mother at a hospital in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Seeing that the family did not have enough money for both operations, Hanh called doctors to tell them only his younger brother would undergo the medical procedure, but the doctors warned him that his disease was actually more serious as it was causing inflammation in his spinal joints.
With donations from the public, the younger brother’s surgery was carried out in October and he now plants to reenroll in school.
Hanh is still waiting on a miracle to come up with enough money for his own surgery.