German doctor brings new hope to Vietnamese children with heart diseases
A bond of friendship has linked a kind German heart with Vietnam to bring new hope for thousands of disadvantaged local children with congenital heart diseases. So far, intensive material support and technological assistance provided by Dr. Erich Lejeune, Chairman of the Heart for Heart Foundation for Life, has offered Vietnamese children a new chance for a better life.
Dr. Erich Lejeune, Chairman of the Heart for Heart Foundation for Life with children at Hoa Phu Kindergarten, Hoa Vang district, Da Nang. (Photo: NDO)
In April, 2018, Dr. Lejeune, a German entrepreneur, arrived at Da Nang to visit children undergoing treatment for congenital heart diseases. Along with the meaningful journey of his heart foundation, thousands of children in Central Vietnam and in the Central Highlands have been examined and screened for cardiac diseases. He joined a team of doctors from the Da Nang General Hospital for a visit to Hoa Phu commune, Hoa Vang district to offer congenital heart screening for children at Hoa Phu Kindergarten.
Over the past 12 years, Dr. Lejeune and his wife, Irene, with the assistance from Dr. Le Trong Phi, an overseas Vietnamese living in Germany, have brought new hope for thousands of children with congenital heart diseases. Regarding his philanthropic acts towards Vietnamese children, Dr. Lejeune simply said, “As a successful businessman already, I told my wife I wanted to do something to make this life more meaningful, more humane.”
At the Hoa Phu Kindergarten, the first thing to do for Dr. Lejeune was to talk to each teacher and learn about the health of children in this highland area. He quietly observed volunteer doctors of Da Nang Hospital as they carefully did their work and fully took note of the health status of the kids. He said he witnessed a heart surgery when doctors treated a cardiac arrest, then the miracle occurred as the heart was resurrected to begin beating again. That feeling was strange, he said, adding that he realised the life outside was still more valuable than money and wealth. In 2005, he founded the heart charity with the aim of helping to bring life back to failing hearts.
Dr. Erich Lejeune (far left), Chairman of the Heart for Heart Foundation for Life, follows doctors from Da Nang Hospital in offering cardiac screening for children at Hoa Phu Kindergarten, Hoa Vang district, Da Nang. (Photo: NDO)
At that time, three disadvantaged Vietnamese children were transferred to Germany for heart surgeries with the help of leading cardiologists. However, as the cost of bringing children to Germany for treatment was too expensive, Dr. Lejeune chose to bring experts to Vietnam, donate modern equipment, and provide support to train local specialist doctors. From that close connection, the Heart for Heart Foundation for Life selected Da Nang to lay the foundation for their charity journey. After 12 years in close cooperation, with the enthusiasm and support from Da Nang Hospital’s physicians, thousands of children in the central region have received congenital heart interventions, offering a new hope for a better life.
So far, the foundation has delivered a range of modern equipment for cardiovascular hospitals nationwide, in which two DSAs, ultrasound equipment and cardiac resuscitation devices worth nearly VND63 billion were provided to the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery and Intervention at Da Nang Hospital. Many doctors here have joined training courses both at home and abroad. From 2010 to 2017, there were hundreds of heart disease screening campaigns launched for nearly 70,000 children in the provinces from Nghe An to Gia Lai, which led to 1,606 cases being diagnosed for timely treatment. Doctors also provided treatment for more than 6,000 local people with cardiovascular diseases.
Giving his assessment on the effective operation of the Heart for Heart Foundation for Life, Dr. Le Duc Nhan, Director of Da Nang Hospital, said that: "Dr. Lejeune and his foundation have offered Da Nang Hospital many medical examination and treatment devices, as well as establishing an advisory council in collaboration with leading cardiologists and professors to support the hospital. The assistance has helped facilitate the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery and Intervention at Da Nang Hospital as a centre with the highest screening and cardiovascular intervention rate in Vietnam, offering free heart surgeries for thousands of children with special difficult circumstances.”
By the end of 2018, the Heart Centre at Da Nang Hospital will be officially put into operation, making it the first heart centre in the central region. More good news comes to local disadvantaged children with heart congenital diseases, as Dr. Lejeune shared that he will donate a modern cardiac catheterisation system with relevant attached equipment worth more than EUR 1 million (USD 1.1 million) to the centre. He also said that he wanted to be an envoy to connect 90 million German hearts with 90 million Vietnamese people in his heart-to-heart journey to find the true value of his life./.
By Nguyen Thi Anh Dao