I want to share with you the on going story of Thanh Bach and her current condition.
In one of my prior letters, I referred to a saying that said, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” This idea kept on unfolding as I have involved more deeply in the Bridging Hope’s mission in Việt Nam.
During my site visits in May 2018, I had a chance to revisit Thanh Bach, the case of the young girl that has a blood tumor on her left cheek. I want to recap her condition since my last post was in 2016.
Thanh Bach, 9 months old
When I went back to visit during spring of 2013, I noticed the tumor had grown astonishingly. My heart sank! A nudge inside me impelled me to take action.
Thanh Bạch, almost 2 years old
When I got back to the US, I sent Thanh Bạch’s pictures to Bridging Hope’s board members, volunteers, and friends asking for help. I received many suggestions but my attention leaned to a reply of Beverly Williams, a secretary of the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF). She wrote:
Thank you for contacting us! I have forwarded your message to Dr. Williams who is in Hanoi at this very moment. I wept at the sight of this baby, and knew that if something can be done, Dr. Williams will do it. We are so very grateful that you contacted us. Beverly Williams, ICSF Secretary
Right after, I received Dr. Williams’s email. He wrote:
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 all of the day on Sunday.Thanks, Dr. Williams
How happy I was! I phoned Sr. Phúc in Viet Nam asked if she could arrange a trip for Thanh Bach to see him. The plan was to have Ms. Binh, a volunteer in Phan Thiet, to accompany Thanh Bach, her mother, and two siblings to go Saigon and then fly to Ha Noi. Meanwhile, I arranged two friends, Phuong and Ngoc, in Ha Noi to meet them at the Noi Bai Airport. They would take them to the pizza restaurant at the Big C Shopping Mall in the Cau Giay District to meet Dr. Williams. According to his description, he would wear a cowboy hat. The next morning, I received an email from Dr. Williams that said:
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 I 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 and 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 and go to the hospital right away. Bleeding is unlikely so I don’t want to scare her—this is just in case.
Spring of 2014, I was in Viet Nam.
Since Dr. Williams was there at the same time, I arranged for Thanh Bach to have another exam with Dr. Williams. I met them in Saigon and together we flew to Ha Noi. After examining her, he again, suggested to continue her treatment at the children hospital in Saigon, and wait until her tumor was ready to operate.