Category: Patient Stories

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.

NEVER GIVE UP: A DAUGHTER HELPS HER MOTHER GET TREATMENT

Sam Tob, 57, is blind, which makes it difficult for her to find formal employment. She lives with her husband and older sister, caring for grandchildren but relying on her family’s small income: $7 a day, which her sister earns from collecting and selling recyclable materials.

When Tob became sick four months ago, she first hid it from her family. She knew they could barely afford healthcare and didn’t want to cause problems for them. Even though Tob was having trouble breathing, was coughing and had swelling throughout her body, she stayed quiet until her condition got worse and couldn’t be ignored. Eventually, she confided in her adult daughter.

Tob’s daughter took her to a nearby clinic.  Tob was misdiagnosed with anemia and given medicine, but when it didn’t work, Tob’s daughter brought her to a hospital (not SHCH) in Phnom Penh.  After 10 days of hospitalization, Tob was not yet recovered and her daughter sold her land to pay the $250 medical bill. She later borrowed money from a microfinance institution to buy it back.

Tob and her family had exhausted their financial resources and could not afford to pay for more medical care. Fortunately, in a last effort to help Tob, her daughter brought her to the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE (SHCH). After blood tests, x-rays and CT scans, Tob was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was found to have excess fluid in the lungs, which was making it hard for her to breathe. She was hospitalized at SHCH for three days receiving medicines and IV fluids to help her recover. Tob has now returned home with her daughter with her condition much improved.

Before she left SHCH, Tob’s daughter expressed her relief and gratitude. “Thank you so much for saving my mother’s life. We are so poor and had no money left for more medical treatments. Without SHCH, my mother would surely have died.”