Category: Blog

Would you travel 8 hours on a bus to seek treatment?

Sokky, 14 years old with her mother in Emergency Department

When she was just 14, Sokky Chuum was running and playing with her friends in Kong PongThom province when she fell down and hurt her hip.  At the time, she just took some medicine and carried on with life with her family – four siblings and her parents.

Six years later, she had to drop out of school to join the entire family as they moved to Ratanakiri Province, in the far northeast of Phnom Penh, to look for work on the rubber plantations in the area.  It is hard work that requires considerable walking from tree to tree to harvest the sap that is used for making automotive parts.   The family lived in company housing. All four children were working alongside their parents.  “I want go to school like other boys and girls. I love studying; I don’t want drop of school but I must move with my family,” said Sokky.

Chuum Sokky struggled with pain in her hip for a long time, but didn’t talk about it much for fear of losing her job.  She spent a lot of money on traditional medicine.  Then pain increased to the point where she went to the local hospital for treatment, spending funds that were dedicated for food.   Her conditioned worsened.  She couldn’t walk.  She was unable to work.

Sokky’s family was so worried about her that they scraped together bus fare for Sokky and her mother to travel. They heard from a neighbor about a hospital that could help – they were desperate and willing to try. The pair took the 8-hour bus ride to the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE.  Sokky was barely able to move and her mother was very worried.

Once delivered to Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE, Sokky was examined, tested and x-rayed.  She was diagnosed with an inflammation in the hip bone and treated with a variety of anti-inflammatory medications that reduced the pain and swelling.  She was discharged before the end of the day and feeling much better.

“I feel better when I got the medicine from doctor, and now I feel very relieved,” Sokky said. “I am so thankful to the doctor, nurse and the staff at the hospital. They dedicated their time and talent to help me and now I am cured.”

On Time Treatment Saved Sothea’s Life

Vorn Sothea, a delicate, 17 year-old girl, is familiar with struggle and hardship

Vorn Sothea, a delicate, 17 year-old girl, is familiar with struggle and hardship.  Sothea and her two sisters, abandoned by an alcoholic father and orphaned three years ago when their mother died, live in a small shack of bamboo sticks and palm leaves in a Prey Veng province near the Viet Nam border.

For eight years, Sothea lived with pain in her abdomen because of thalassemia, a genetic condition that adversely affects the production of hemoglobin, the protein that red blood cells need to survive.  Most patients suffering from this disease require frequent blood transfusions due to a dysfunctional spleen. Thalassemia is not uncommon in Cambodia due to the genetic markers in the population.  Attempts were made with traditional medicine to try and heal Sothea, but monthly blood transfusions at a Phnom Penh children’s hospital were the only thing that kept her alive.  When she turned 17, Sothea no longer qualified for their services.

Without parents, money or hope for treatment, she was overwhelmed, anxious and desperate.  “What am I supposed to do?” said Sothea.  “How will I ever pay for blood transfusions at another hospital with the meager amount of money that my sisters and I earn?  Will I die before my grandmother does?”

A neighbor who is an AIDS patient at SHCH told her about the social workers from the “Angel Hospital” in Phnom Penh.  The neighbor called SHCH Home Care Unit to see if they could help the girl and a week later the neighbor accompanied  her on a tuk-tuk to see them.  Sothea complained of having a constant heavy feeling in her chest and difficulty walking and breathing.  Chhavelith referred Sothea to the hospital where, after taking her medical history and a blood samples, SHCH’S Chief of Surgery scheduled and performed a successful splenectomy, removing her spleen and reducing the need for frequent blood transfusions.  As part of the post-operative care,  Dr. Ley and other SHCH staff took care of her. They brought food, made sure she had clean clothes, checked in to visit and such as food and some money to get home.

“I feel like I’ve been reborn.  I am so glad for this hospital.  I feel so happy,” Sothea said.  After her recovery, Sothea’s life is still difficult.   Her time is filled with gathering of fish and crabs from a river by her house and she dreams of going to school.  She is forever thankful for the caring support of SHCH’s people and the small gifts that came to her along this journey of healing.  Her life will be better now with more stable health.  Donors like you saved her life and have strengthened Sothea’s resolve and hope for the future.

This hospital saved my son’s life

This hospital saved my son’s life

Lim came to Sihanouk Hospital frail and weak. He had been suffering from swollen and rigid jaws, a spasmodic back and jittery legs for two agonizing weeks; he hadn’t been able to work for a month beforehand. His body had become infected with tetanus, a medical condition caused by a neurotoxin of the Clostridium tetani bacteria that infects the central nervous system, which then produces severe skeletal-muscular spasms. Tetanus is a common disease found throughout many developing nations. It causes an estimated 309,000 deaths a year. Even though Cambodia has made considerable strides toward eradicating tetanus through infant immunizations, many people are still vulnerable.

 

Lim doesn’t exactly know how he contracted the illness. It may have been through rubbing a work-related laceration or sore against a rusty metal chair or bench near his home or inside the factory where he works. It also could have been transmitted from the bare ground and through a single small cut on his toe.

Using traditional Khmer medicine, Lim first tried to cure himself with boiled tree bark and fresh herbs, but these were ineffective. His health deteriorated. He then went to another hospital in Phnom Penh, and paid 70,000 riel for another type of medicine, which worked to no avail.

Lim’s parents were worried. With Lim, his wife and his father on a single motorbike and armed with the meager savings from his mother’s job at the factory, they spent over a third of his mother’s monthly income on gasoline for the trip to SHCH. The trip from Kampong Speu took 1.5 hours.

When Sihanouk Hospital admitted Lim into the medical ward, he was administered large dosages of the potent antitoxin metronidazole in order to fight off the advanced condition. He recovered in bed for a week before he was able to sit up and talk. Because of SHCH’s doctors’ close supervision and compassionate care, his painful symptoms gradually weakened. His health returned and he is back at work. His mother said, “This hospital saved my son’s life. I may have a grandson some day.”

“The staff here at Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE took great care of me. We are so thankful for all that you have done for us. It is such a wonderful gift to have this hospital in Cambodia,” said Lim.

Quality care to infection diseases

Yeam Sey, 32, is from Kandal province who works as a garment factory making $128 per month.With her husband and her daughter, she rents a very small house in Phnom Penh. She came to SHCH with a distended abdomen, later diagnosed as TB peritonitis, a complication of TB that causes fever and vomiting in addition to many other problems.  After ten days with us, she was discharged home to continue her career with her husband.

“Without SHCH and generously donors, I would die because I would not have the money to cover my treatment. As a garment factory worker, I made a little salary so I cannot support to my health issue sometimes. And I also thank you so much to SHCH’s staff who provides the compassion to the patients and they always make patients feel confident to against with their life issue”. Said Sey.

 

A JOURNEY TO GOOD HEALTH

With 80% of Cambodia’s population living in rural areas, farming is a way of life for many. However, with limited road, transport and healthcare infra

structure outside of Phnom Penh, access to high-quality healthcare is challenging and often prohibitively expensive. When Mr Korm Koeun, a 54-year-old farmer from Kompong Spoeu province, became ill, he travelled to the Sihanouk Hospital Centre of HOPE (SHCH) because he could not afford medical care elsewhere.

Koeun arrived at the hospital with symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, cough and fatigue and was diagnosed with pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung. He was treated on the medical ward for two weeks until his health improved.

Koeun’s household income is approximately $3 per day, and with five dependent children, he was grateful for the accessible care that he received at the hospital:

“Without the hospital, I might have died. Thank you very much for giving me a new life… I will tell my village about this hospital because is the best one for the poor in Cambodia.”

Koeun has now fully recovered and returned to his farm and family in the province.