Category: Blog

Traffic accident survivor travels the difficult road to recovery

Sok Try, a 49 year-old father from Phnom Penh, is one of nearly 6,000 Cambodians injured in traffic accidents each year. Try works as a moto taxi driver, picking up customers on the back of his motorbike and taking them wherever they need to go. It doesn’t pay much, but occasionally he can make up to $5 per day. This past July, Try was dropping off a passenger on his motorbike when he was slammed into by a reckless driver. According to the latest government statistics, 30% of Cambodians involved in traffic accidents die; and over 75% of these fatalities are on motorbikes. Luckily, Try and his passenger survived. But his troubles had only just begun.

Immediately after Try’s accident, he was rushed to a government hospital where he received surgery for a broken leg. After five days in the hospital costing him a total of $500, Try ran out of money and he was promptly discharged. Try then came to SHCH, where he was provided with all available treatment. Unfortunately Try required a specialist orthopedic surgery that is only available at a nearby private clinic. Try’s extended family managed to scrape together $1,000 to cover the cost of the surgery, but while at the private clinic Try contracted a bloodstream infection. He quickly came back to SHCH to receive follow-up.

Like many of our patients with poor baseline health including under-nutrition and inadequate living conditions, Try experienced many setbacks during his recovery –infections, poor healing and three repeat admissions to SHCH. Try’s current (and final!) admission has lasted nearly a month, but he is finally ready to go home, fully healed.

As a moto taxi driver, Try understands how serious traffic accidents can be. He expressed his thanks to SHCH for providing a place for him to recover. “Without this hospital, I could have lost my leg,” he told us. “I came here because I want to go back to work and support my family.” We are proud to have supported Try to do just that – soon he’ll be back at work, supporting his family again. With your continued assistance, SHCH will continue to heal patients like Try.

Hard-Working Farmer Finally Gets the Care She Needs

Chab Chroub thought she had tried everything to heal her wound. Chroub, 48, had stepped on a nail on her farm in Kratie Province. For two months, she tried to treat her wound with traditional medicine – soaking her foot in a bath of water with special leaves and tree barks. When it wasn’t working and the wound began to worsen, she visited a local pharmacist who gave her several boxes of expensive medication an injection in her hip. Chroub isn’t sure what the tablets or injection were for, because the pharmacist never explained them to her. All she knows is that they cost her $300 and didn’t work. At her wit’s end and now struggling financially, Chroub sold two of her cows and travelled with her niece to Phnom Penh to seek care at SHCH.

Once at SHCH, Chroub received the first thorough medical examination of her life, and was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. Chroub underwent two surgical wound debridements and was fitted with a wound vac for 5 days. Now the wound vac is off, and thanks to such attentive wound care and diabetes education from the inpatient nurses, Chroub is nearly ready to go home.

“The staff here told me that if I had waited any longer to come, I could have lost my foot or even my life,” Chroub told us, promising to take her diabetes seriously. “I am thankful to be here, and I’ve never experienced care like this in my life.”

20th Anniversary ceremony at SHCH

After two decades of serving the poor and providing compassionate, high-quality care in Cambodia, SHCH holds a special place in the hearts of many Cambodians, and in the international community of volunteers, donors, staff, partners and other friends who have supported the hospital over the years. In 2016, SHCH celebrated its 20th anniversary with a ceremony and reception that drew over 200 guests from Cambodia and across the globe to recognize this milestone achievement.

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the ceremony with Her Majesty Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk beside him. Their Majesties are long-time patrons of the hospital and in his speech, His Majesty extended his congratulations to the staff who have helped to grow the hospital over the years.
Other key note speakers were His Excellency Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister for Health, and Dr. Gary Jacques, Vice President, Health and Social Services, HOPE worldwide.

During the ceremony, Their Majesties gifted SHCH with a new ambulance that will provide patient transportation to those who cannot otherwise afford it. Their Majesties and His Excellency greeted patients on the hospital wards with other VIP guests including HOPE worldwide executives and representatives of the hospital’s other founding organizations, Japan Relief for Cambodia and World Mate.

For the hospital staff, the ceremony was uplifting, and recognised the value of each person’s contributions. Everyone at SHCH is now looking forward to the next steps in the hospital’s journey and is working hard to make the next twenty years as rich in achievement as the first.

Journey after Genocide

Every once in a while, a patient comes through our doors who profoundly touches our hearts. 79 year-old Pov Samorn is one of those patients.

Samorn with his son, Ponlok, after his amputation

Samorn was married to the love of his life, the beautiful Semeun, for over 40 years, and their love is nothing less than miraculous. The two met by forced marriage at the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. The practice was commonly used as a way to destroy family unity and propagate a labor workforce. But not only did Samorn and Semeun fall in love, their partnership and commitment to each other helped them to survive unspeakable terrors under Pol Pot’s genocide.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the couple went on to raise three bright and capable children – 2 girls and 1 boy – and settled in rural Kandal province on a section of peaceful land. The family lived a modest but contended life until two years ago when Semeun and their eldest daughter died in a heartbreaking motorbike accident.

Samorn was unable to cope after the accident. He and Semeun had endured tragedy and loss before, but without Semeun at his side he could not endure his despair. In a province with virtually no mental health services, Samorn was left to suffer with depression, and turned to drinking and smoking heavily to cope. Within weeks, Samorn suffered a massive stroke that left him with severe left-sided weakness, never to fully recover.

To make matters worse, Samorn’s children began noticing sores on Samorn’s feet and legs, which they did not know was a late manifestation of diabetes. By the time he was correctly diagnosed as diabetic, the damage was so advanced that his left leg would need to be amputated – it was infected beyond repair. But the amputation was costly, and the children had no funds left to pay for it. They had already used their emergency savings and sold their late mother’s small jewelry collection – worth far more to them in memories than it was in money.

At last, the family found Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE. Here, Samorn was provided with affordable care, and received his life-saving amputation. Samorn has been with us for two weeks now, and will stay until his diabetes is under control. With financial assistance from SHCH, his children have one less worry on their minds.

Samorn’s son Ponlok expressed his relief at finding SHCH. “This hospital is fair to all people, and treats my father with respect,” he said.  “I don’t know what we would do without you.”

Samorn has a long road ahead of him, but with the support of SHCH his loving children who worked tirelessly to find him treatment, we are confident that Samorn can find his way through this new challenge in life and rediscover his resilience.


Ven Chanthol, 42, is a hard-working husband and father of four. He drives a tuk tuk in the city, earning $5 a day to buy food for his family. A month ago, Chanthol started feeling pain in his abdomen and experienced acute dizziness. After seeking care at a local health facility, his wife brought him to the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE. He came with a high fever and vomiting. Our staff rushed him to the Emergency Room where he was stabilized and diagnosed with acute kidney failure and gastritis (inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the stomach lining). After a week of care, Chanthol recovered greatly: he is back on his feet again, ready to get back to his tuk tuk and continue supporting his family.

‘I am thankful to SHCH for giving free treatment to poor patients like me. It’s difficult to describe the good feeling in my heart right now. I feel uplifted,’ said Chanthol. His wife added her thanks: ‘I would like to say thank you to all doctors that helped my husband. I will tell other people in my village about the good quality of this hospital.’

Life hurts when you can’t breathe

In the dusty streets of Phnom Penh, there are many recycling collectors that are walking through the city. Their pull carts that are loaded with cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes. Occasionally, the female trash collectors sometimes carry their babies or toddlers standing tall or swinging in a hammock as they nap. Kann Sroeun, a 60 year old widow, makes about $5 per day working her area in Phnom Penh.

Surrounded by exhaust fumes and city dirt, many of the street vendors and have breathing problems such as asthma and persistent cough. Sroeun arrived at Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE last month with severe difficulties. She was hypoxic, meaning that she did not have enough oxygen in her body, and had a very fast heart rate and shortness of breath.

Sroeun felt her situation was desperate. As a widow, she lived with her brother and sister in an urban shantytown slum in Phnom Penh. A doctor’s visit in a private clinic would have cost her at least 2 days wage and more charges for any treatment, medication or other supplies that might have been delivered to her.

She arrived at the hospital in the morning and was promptly evaluated. Sroeun received pure oxygen–a great relief for her tired lungs—and was diagnosed with severe asthma. After a week to rest and receive additional medications, Sroeun was discharged and returned to work.

“This is a great place. We received wonderful care and warmness from doctor and staff here.”- Sroeun. Yan Yunh, Sroeun’s sister,said “We thank the donors and doctors for support to the hospital. Without your contribution, this place would not exist and many would be. We are the poor so we really need you.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month- an ongoing issue for women in Cambodia

Ms. Nhoek Mech is just one of the patients that SHCH sees each month for issues relating to Breast Cancer.  Mech, 58, is a rice farmer in Battambang about 6 hours north west of Phnom Penh by car.   She lives with her 5 children, all of which are working in manual labor with a very low salary to support the family.   She came to us in March 2015.

In late 2014, she found a large mass on her breast.  She went to a large private clinic with a laboratory  in the city close to her farm.  After a biopsy, they found malignancy in the tissue.  The doctor there recommended surgery, but it was far too expensive for her.  She decided to pursue traditional healing instead.  Naturally, those treatments did not work.

Mech became desperate and despondent after she saw the lump grow bigger.  Her cousin, after learning of her troubles, knew about SHCH’s Breast Cancer program. Mech came in for an assessment, laboratory diagnostics include hormone receptor status (SHCH has the only laborartory that can do this test) and surgical treatment.  Mech was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.    Unfortunately, Mech  was also hormone receptor negative, which means that donated medications cannot treat her.    SHCH staff will work with her to determine appropriate treatment options.

“Thank you very much for saving me and giving me a new lifeMech said, “I will share my story to all women in my village to save their life from breast cancer.”

Hope and a Future

Mrs. Mich Sam Bo and her Husband in Medical Ward

Sam Bo was faint and feverish while tilling her rice field in Kandal, located 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Phnom Penh. For three weeks, her fever continued. It was time to get help and her husband Phala decided to bring his sick wife to a hospital. The couple first tried a few local facilities; the doctors prescribed various drugs to help the fever go down, but nothing worked. It seemed hopeless and Sam Bo was growing very weak.

Then they remembered Sihanouk Hospital. Sam Bo and Phala knew about SHCH because Sam Bo needed gall bladder surgery three years ago. Phala acted quickly. He put his wife on the back of his motor bike and came to Phnom Penh. Sam Bo held on weakly for the hour-long, bumpy ride. When they arrived, he carried her on his shoulders into the SHCH emergency department. Phala was hopeful upon arriving but still worrisome. He thought, “The doctors will surely save her.”

Sam Bo was diagnosed with a liver abscess, which caused anemia, dizziness and faintness. After the doctors administered a range of three different antibiotics, Mich Sam Bo began to feel better. She’s still in the hospital, and said, “I feel better and have a lot less fever.” She will be with us for a few more days and then go home.

Phala and Sam Bo were married in 1987, only eight years after the Khmer Rouge regime was ended. Over the course of their 26-year marriage, they have raised three children and witnessed the rebuilding of Cambodia’s health care system along the way. While progress is being made, severe deficits in rural health care still exist. SHCH fills a critical gap in delivering quality, compassionate health care for thousands of patients each year. When asked how she would change healthcare if she had the power, Sam Bo said, “I want more free care hospitals!” With your support, SHCH can continue to not only fill the gaps in Cambodia’s current health care system, but also continue to build up the capacity of Cambodian health professionals.