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Transplant of deceased Vietnamese child’s eye restores sight of man

Wednesday, January 02, 2019, 17:00 GMT+7
Transplant of deceased Vietnamese child’s eye restores sight of man
A mother whispers to his four-year-old son before doctors collected his corneas on the last days of 2018 in Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

One of the corneas from a Vietnamese child, four years of age, who died on his birthday has restored sight to a young man in a successful organ transplant on the last days of 2018, Vietnam’s Central Eye Hospital said on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old man’s eyes had for many years suffered from corneal dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes foreign material to build up in layers of the cornea, resulting in blurry vision.

A similar transplant of the other cornea is scheduled for early next week for another person with the same condition.

The donor in the two medical operations was a boy in Phu Tho Province, next to Hanoi, who recently died on his fourth birthday in the wake of an accident.

His family wrote a post on social media saying they wished to give his corneas to those in need.

The Central Eye Hospital came across the post and dispatched doctors to the boy’s home in order to harvest the corneas.

“We remained silent listening to his story along the way,” said one of the people on the trip, Nguyen Huu Hoang, who is the director of the infirmary’s Eye Bank arm.

A doctor harvests a Vietnamese four-year-old’s corneas on the last days of 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A doctor harvests a Vietnamese four-year-old’s corneas on the last days of 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“My little warrior, give your corneas to those who want to regain sight, will you?” Hoang recalled the child’s mother telling the son softly to his ears while hugging him before the corneas were collected.

“The words deeply moved me,” Hoang added.

This is the third corneal donation from children across Vietnam in less than a year since January 2018 and the Phu Tho boy is the youngest of all so far.

Their corneas have helped restore the sight of five people.

In July last year, a girl from Hanoi named Nguyen Van Nhi wanted to donate her corneas before she died from a rare disease she had suffered for her entire lifetime.

Five months earlier, a moribund girl seven years and three months old with brain cancer allowed her corneas to be given to someone in need.

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Thai Xuan / Tuoi Tre News

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