- Provide healthcare and nutrition for 35 elderly women
Dear Friends of Bridging Hope,
I would like to share with you a moving story of the power of collaboration.
In August 2012, Kim (a Bridging Hope volunteer and now board member) and I visited the elder program in Phan Thiet. We met a single mother with a 9-month-old daughter with a small tumor on her left cheek. They, with two older children, lived in a very deprived little hut, located against the wall of a straw house in wretched condition.
During my visit this spring, I asked about the baby’s condition. Sister Phuc shared that the tumor had grown astonishingly big. She then sent photos.
My heart sank at the photos. I forwarded them to Bridging Hope’s board members, volunteers and friends asking them to send them to their doctor friends or any foundation that could offer help to the baby. Amazingly, I received many replies with diagnoses and information on the foundations. One was the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF) sent to me by a board member Joan Buckley. I contacted the foundation and immediately received not only a phone call, but an email that read:
Thank you for contacting us! I have forwarded your msg to Dr. Williams who is in Hanoi at this very moment. I weep at the sight of this baby, and know that if something can be done, Dr. W will do it. We are so very grateful that you contacted us…
Beverly Williams, Sec’y ICSF
I learned Dr. Williams is the founder of ICSF. Instantly, I received an email from Dr. Williams:
This is Dr. Geoff Williams with ICSF. I have seen the baby’s photos and this appears to be some kind of a blood vessel tumor. This is not cancer. I do not think the tumor will grow much more. Can you tell me what city in Vietnam the child lives in? I am in Hai Phong Vietnam now although I have to leave in three days. I will be in Hanoi for all of the day on Sunday.
Thanks, Dr. Williams
How happy I was! Next was to find ways for the mother and her baby to go to Ha Noi. I called Sr. Phuc to let her know the option. She said she would ask the mother in the morning since it was night in Viet Nam. I anxiously waited.
Once the mother agreed to go, we came up with a plan: Sr. Phuc would arrange to have a volunteer accompany the mother and her two children from Phan Thiet to Saigon and then fly to Ha Noi while I made arrangements with two friends in Ha Noi to meet them at the Noi Bai Airport and take them to the pizza restaurant in the Big C Shopping Mall at Cau Giay District in Ha Noi to meet Dr. Williams. He would wear a cowboy hat.
I went to bed that night anxious to know the outcome, but surrendered it into God’s hands. The email from Dr. Williams the next day was food for my soul:
I was able to visit the baby. This mass is definitely not cancer, which is good news. The bad news is that I do not think this is the common kind of vessel tumor, the kind that shrinks after age 2. I think it is another kind of vessel tumor, a venous malformation. This is an overgrowth of the veins. I think it has fairly high blood flow at this time, making it dangerous for surgery. Another bit of good news is that the doctors in the children’s hospital in Saigon are treating the baby with a drug that seems to have helped since they started it 2 weeks ago.
Therefore I think the obvious thing to do is simply wait. I asked Binh to take photos every month or so and send them to you and then you can send them on to me. They will be taking the baby back to the hospital for evaluation. There is still the chance the mass will be successfully treated or shrink on its own or stop growing—we just have to give it time to see what happens.
One thing I was planning on telling Binh and the mother is what to do if the surface of the growth starts to bleed. It might get scratched or something. If this happens if it starts to bleed, the mother should simply put gauze or toilet paper on the bleeding site and hold pressure, enough pressure to stop the bleeding and then keeping the pressure on the bleeding, and go to the hospital right away. Bleeding is unlikely so I don’t want to scare her – this is just in case.
His email, along with others, eased my mind. I’m so grateful for Beverly’s quick reply and her compassion for the baby, and Dr. Williams’ knowledge and generosity! Yes, I’m so grateful for Sr. Phuc, Ms. Binh, Vinh and the two friends in Ha Noi, Phuong and Ngoc. All of these efforts came together to form a miracle: a miracle that “bridged” Colorado, Phan Thiet, Saigon and Ha Noi. This shows the power of working together—the power of the human spirit!
Sen Nguyen, OSF
Read reflections on the 2011 Viet Nam trip by Sue Artone-Fricke, OSF Click here
Read about our recent trip to Viet Nam!
See a slideshow of photos from our trip below!
Click on the image to open a full page view of the slideshow.
Viet Nam Trip Oct. 2010 – Copyright