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Heart flown to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi to save patient

Monday, May 18, 2020, 16:23 GMT+7
Heart flown to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi to save patient
A team of medical workers rush out of Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after disembarking a plane with a box (in red) containing a donated heart, May 13, 2020. Photo: Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation

The heart of a brain-dead female farmer in Hanoi was flown to Ho Chi Minh City to successfully save a female patient last week in Vietnam’s first case of female heart donation.

On the afternoon of May 13, the heart was airlifted from Viet Duc University Hospital in the capital to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, covering a journey of over 1,730 kilometers.

It was the first time the heart from a female donor had been successfully transplanted into a recipient in Vietnam.

A team of experts from the Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation (VNHOT) and doctors at Cho Ray Hospital took part in escorting the heart and the following organ transplant.

As the heart had to be transplanted within six hours of being harvested from the donor, everything had to be sped up.

The medical team and their special carry-on baggage — a box containing the donated heart — had been arranged to disembark the plane in only two minutes after landing at 8:10 pm May 13.

A green corridor was provided by Ho Chi Minh City police officers to expedite the heart’s transportation from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Cho Ray Hospital.

Later the same night, the heart was already beating in another female patient’s chest, giving her a new lease of life after a successful operation.

Traffic police officers escort a vehicle transporting a donated heart from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, May 13, 2020. Video: Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation

Doctors said there have been seven families whose brain-dead relatives had registered to be organ donors recently.

Apart from the transplant at Cho Ray Hospital, another transplant was also successfully performed by doctors at the Hanoi-based Viet Duc University Hospital recently.

For the last five years, there have been fifty flights delivering donated organs between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the central city of Hue.

According to doctors, the flight on May 13 might be the donor’s first-ever time ‘being’ on a plane.

A similar story happened in 2018 when a young Vietnamese man who donated his heart had his first ‘flying experience’ that was also his last.

“Although we are very familiar with the mission, we are always overwhelmed with emotions. This was the first time that we had brought a woman’s heart to the southern region from the north. A woman’s heart, which is similar to mine, made me choke back my tears,” a member of the team that escorted the heart told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“I waited for the heart to beat in the new chest before I left the hospital, as I had always done. Tonight, a woman got a new lease of life. [The donor’s heart] will have a new and very different life, at a place far away from her hometown."

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