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End-stage cancer patient in Vietnam donates corneas

Saturday, February 16, 2019, 11:08 GMT+7
End-stage cancer patient in Vietnam donates corneas
Pham Thi Hue (R) is seen in a photo uploaded on her Facebook profile.

A 22-year-old woman in Vietnam who has fought cancer for six years has registered to donate her corneas as a final act of kindness.

Pham Thi Hue, from the northern province of Thai Binh, has been living with liver cancer for six years.

Though exhausted by the deadly disease which has developed into its final stage, Hue on Tuesday traveled with her mother from their hometown to Hanoi to register to become an organ donor.

Dang Hoang Giang, a social activist and author who is known for his works to support cancer patients in Vietnam, said he “could feel his heart beat faster and his hands shaking” when he received a text massage from Hue asking for directions to become an organ donor.

“When we were in a small room at the National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation located inside the Vietnam-Germany Hospital, Hue asked which organs she was eligible to donate,” Giang recalls accompanying Hue and her mother through the registration steps.

In the end, Hue chose to donate her corneas, the only part of her body that are not affected by her chemical cancer treatments.

Carefully putting Hue’s donor’s card away after locating the phone number they need to call when “the time” comes, the mother and daughter went for a check-up to see if a surgery could be performed to remove a growing tumor that has made Hue’s belly look like that of a six-month-pregnant woman.

The removal would play no meaning in reversing the development of her cancer, but at least it would help relieve the pain that’s been torturing the young woman, Giang said.

The doctor prescribed her with some medicine and told her to go home, as there’s “little that can be done” at that stage of her disease.

The pair left for their hometown the day after.

It could be the last time Hue saw Hanoi, where she had lived a large part of her youth.

Hue was in her high school freshman year when she was diagnosed with liver cancer.

The disease didn’t stop Hue from finishing high school and getting admitted into the university of her dream in Hanoi, where she continued to pursue a bachelor’s degree in food science despite her cancer.

During her days spent at the Vietnam National Cancer Hospital in Hanoi, Hue met and fell in love with Duong Tuan Anh, who is also a cancer patient.

Anh passed away at the age of 22.

A documentary on her life and love story, ‘Hay nho minh dang song’ (Remember you’re living), has inspired cancer patients in Vietnam to live a meaningful life.

For the last six months of 2018, Hue was one of the actors for a short play called ‘Memento Mori’ (Remember you’ll die), which is inspired by stories of cancer patients in Vietnam.

It was said in the documentary about Hue that one cannot choose the circumstances into which we are born, but we can choose how we face those circumstances.

Hue has chosen to live a special life, and she intends to give it her absolute best even after she’s gone.

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Lan Anh - Tuan Son

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