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Burns doctor marshals funds to help poor

Update: June, 18/2012 - 21:18

 

Doing the rounds: Doctor Dao takes care of a patient with serious burns. Planning to retire in four years time, he is worried about finding a way to attract more well-meaning doctors to his ward.-- VNS Photos Tien Thanh
 
While the health sector may have been found wanting in patient care the chief of a burns ward in HCM City tries to go an extra mile for his patients. Thuy Duong reports/

Chief of the Cho Ray Hospital's Burns Ward in HCM City Dr Tran Doan Dao tries to give patients as much as he can.

Dao, 56, said when he first started work at the hospital in 1991, he realised that most patients with critical burns were poor.

Burns treatment fees, which can cost over VND100 million (US$4,760), were just too expensive for people who earned a living doing odd jobs and could hardly make ends meet, he said.

He explained how heart wrenching his early time at the hospital was, when he would daily meet patients who could not afford meals, or families who would come to him in tears and ask for early discharges due to financial difficulties.

However, the hospital could not afford to offer free-of-charge treatments.

Dao spent a lot of time pondering possible sources to assist the poor.

"Despite my efforts, I cannot do anything to help them by myself," he said.

Then, about a decade ago, the doctor attended a party thrown by a few of his wealthy friends.

Dao said that after listening to his story, one friend told him, "Whenever a poor patient needs help at the department, call me."

After that, ten other friends also offered to help, the number of sponsors having since increased over the years.

 

Benevolence: Doctor Tran Doan Dao tries to give patient as much help as he can so they can live their lives to the full.
 
He said that a businesswoman, successful in the cattle feed sector, was treated for slight burns at the hospital. Having witnessed the patients' plight she asked him to call her whenever a poor patient needed assistance.

Helping the poor has been an intrinsic part of the doctor's life since childhood.

Dao grew up as part of a poor community alongside nine siblings in Quang Nam Province. His family was unable to pay his grandfather's treatment fees when he fell sick and died soon after, the doctor explained.

When his mother received care for bronchocele at a regional hospital, Dao came to see the doctors as heroes, dreaming to become one himself in honour of his father's wishes.

By helping other people understand the importance of supporting poor patients, the doctor has assisted countless numbers of people during his ten-year career.

Dr Dao told the story of a woman from Nha Trang who came to him begging for her husband to be discharged to due financial complications. When he managed to find sponsors to support the patient, the family pledged him their eternal gratitude.

The doctor said the experience made him realise just how personally significant his help was.

Over the past years, he has even put a little of his own savings aside to help poor patients in his ward. However, what some appreciate most is his words of encouragement.

Pham Thi Be Hai, a 23-year-old patient from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tra Vinh, said Dr Dao always encourages her to complete treatment for the burns she received via an overturned oil lamp.

"My family is poor. This is the first time I've been hospitalised and I feel unexpectedly lucky to have met such a good doctor," she said.

Dao has additionally promised to raise VND15 million ($710) towards her cause, Hai added.

Planning to retire in four years time, the doctor is worried about finding a way to attract more well-meaning doctors to his ward.

Few want to work with the poor, Dr Dao explained.

"I have only one small dream, which is to help burn victims recover to once again live their lives to the full." — VNS

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