Vietnam Time

7/4/2018 7:25:29 AM

Another young girl donates cornea

Nguyen Van Nhi, a 12-year-old girl who died on July 2nd had decided to donate her cornea, becoming the third-youngest person to make such donation in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Nhi. (Photo courtesy of her family)

Nhi took her last breath after nine days of treatment at the Hanoi-based Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics. Her death was caused by laryngeal papillomatosis, a rare medical condition in which benign tumors form along the aerodigestive tract.

Diagnosed with the disease at two years old, Nhi was last hospitalised on June 23rd due to breathing problems and high fever. Her condition worsened, with doctors predicting she might not make it. Her mother decided to donate the girl’s cornea and this decision was supported by the entire family.

The little girl agreed to donate her cornea on her hospital bed before losing consciousness. 

Nguyen Huu Hoang, Director of the Vietnam National Coordinating Centre for Human Organ Transplantation, praised the donation as a humanitarian act, saying Nhi’s cornea will bring light to others.

Earlier this year, Nguyen Hai An, 7, from Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem district, before passing away in her K Hospital sickbed, decided to give her cornea to people who could use it.

Since then, Vietnam’s organ transplant center has seen a sudden surge in the number of people registering to be organ donors thanks to her sad but inspirational story.

An, who dreamed of becoming a vet or an animal trainer, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor last September and her condition degenerated rapidly.

Her mother said she had discussed the idea with her daughter, who agreed to donate her organs after her death. However, Vietnamese laws only allow hospitals to take the cornea from people under 18 years old.

An’s story has received widespread media coverage, including reports that her selfless act has given sight to two Vietnamese adults for the first time in many years.

Officials at the Hanoi transplant center believe the publicity, which has earned the girl nicknames such as “angel”, “hero” and even “god”, has countered the taboo about organ transplants in Vietnam.

Many people in Vietnam strongly believe they need all their body parts for the afterlife, and families of donors have also been caught up in rumors about selling organs for money.

In Vietnam, people can register to donate their organs at the center in Hanoi at the Viet-Duc Friendship Hospital, and at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

Both hospitals usually spend more time calling for donors rather than actually receiving them.

A survey by K hospital showed up to 300,000 people need a cornea transplant, but only 100-150 people receive a cornea each year due to a national shortage of donors./.

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