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Surgically separated twin recalls historic operation

Update: October, 07/2013 - 08:52
Nguyen Duc (first, left) is seen in his charitable activity at Agent Orange victims' family in HCM City's Go Vap District. Duc said it's now his time to give back to the society. — VNS Photo Van Dat

HCM CITY (VNS)— The survivor of Viet Nam's first surgery to separate conjoined twins 25 years ago, Nguyen Duc, expressed his respect to the late People's Physician Duong Quang Trung, who organised the historic operation.

He was joined by his wife Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen as well as Vietnamese and Japanese benefactors who made contributions to the surgical accomplishment.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dr Duong Quang Trung, as well as doctors and nurses at Tu Du Hospital and Peace Village and the Negaukai Association," Duc said.

Duc and his brother Viet were born conjoined due to Agent Orange poisoning. It took a team of 70 Vietnamese doctors and nurses 15 hours to separate them.

Although Viet died in 2007 after a lifelong struggle with cerebral palsy, he remains a guiding force in Duc's life.

"Knowing the value of my life, I promised myself to live well for Viet and keep participating in charitable activities to support other Agent Orange victims," Duc said.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, former director of Tu Du Hospital in HCM City, who supported Viet and Duc before and after the operation, recalled that the conjoined twins were initially brought to Japan in 1986.

However, she said, after spending three months in Tokyo-based Hiroo Hospital, they were returned to Viet Nam because Japanese doctors were not confident they could save both of them.

The Vietnamese team performed the operation in poor conditions. The country was under embargo after the war, and medical resources were few and far between.

Professor Bunro Fujimoto, head of the Negaukai Association, recalled that the operating room did not even have an air-conditioner.

The situation was also highly risky. If Viet died, his twin would die as well.

However, support from Japanese benefactors helped the team succeed.

"Negaukai donated 2.5 million yen. I'll never forget one farmer who donated 820,000 yen wrapped in cloth to our organisation without saying his name," Fujimoto said. — VNS

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