Sunday , December 10 2023

Young doctor helps patients out of his own pocket


Dương Minh Tuấn talks to a patient at Minh Hoá District General Hospital in central Quảng Bình Province. —Photo

QUẢNG BÌNH — In 2020, Dương Minh Tuấn, a doctor at Hà Nội’s Bạch Mai Hospital, made a bold decision. He registered to volunteer at a hospital in a border area in central Quảng Bình Province.

His decision surprised his colleagues and friends. Tuấn was born and raised in a wealthy family in Hà Nội. He had a good job at one of the leading hospitals in the country, after graduating from Hà Nội Medical University.

However, the hospital that Tuấn was going to move to was located in the border area of Minh Hoá District in central Quảng Bình Province.  

Explaining his decision, Tuấn said the programme was part of the ministry’s campaign to send young doctors to remote, border and island areas.

He said his deceased father and the good deeds he had done inspired him to contribute to those in disadvantaged circumstances.

“My father was the owner of a construction business. He always spent half of his profits every year to help those in need. His beautiful actions make me more consistent with my decision,” he said.

Tuấn said he once thought being a doctor was not a perfect career for him. During the years of studying at the Hà Nội Medical University, Tuấn didn’t find himself fit to be a doctor so many times that he intended to quit.

But an incident happened that changed his life. Tuấn’s father passed away suddenly after a heart attack, just as he was preparing to graduate from the university.

“It was a big shock for me,” Tuấn said, “I was determined to pursue the path of being a doctor no matter what happened,” he said.

A new journey

On his first days in Minh Hoá District, many people doubted whether he could adapt to the new working environment and the new life.

The hospital was facing a severe shortage of health staff. There was only one doctor in charge of emergency care for each shift.

Tuấn, who specialises in respiratory medicine, played many roles in his shift. He measured heart rates, took blood pressure, gave clinical examinations and even delivered babies to pregnant women.

“Patients are mostly poor ethnic minorities, so we always try to limit hospital transmission to save money for them and also to make people more confident in the local hospital,” he said.

Witnessing many cases and their difficulties when coming to the hospital for treatment, the young doctor told himself to do something useful to help these patients.

Tuấn still remembers the first time that he and other benefactors helped provide enough money to take a patient to the city for heart surgery. It was a 44-year-old female patient who came to the hospital because she had difficulty breathing.

But when it came to the cost of surgery, the patient just shook her head because she couldn’t afford it. The patient asked to be discharged from the hospital to return home.

Tuấn didn’t agree. He tried to tell her story on social websites and asked for donations for the surgery. Many people read her story and chipped in o help.

After the success of the surgery, Tuấn decided to set up his own fund, in which he would spend all of his salary of VNĐ12 million (US$522) to help those in need.

Any patient that has financial difficulties can get help from him. In case the cost of the treatment is too high, he will ask for donations from his friends.

The fund had helped a single mother have heart surgery in Hà Nội and many emergency cases that needed to be transferred to a different hospital to get treatment.

Tuấn said he has a simple life. He has a part-time job as a translator to get money for his daily needs.

Books of his own

After work, Tuấn often wrote stories about his new life, his thoughts and feeling about the process of working, treating ethnic minorities in Minh Hoá District. Those stories were collected and published in books.

“I want to write down special stories, so everyone can understand and have more humane perspectives on the situation of poor patients in the border area,” Tuấn said.

His working experience helped a lot when Tuấn and his teammates volunteered to receive the treatment of COVID-19 patients in HCM City at the time of the pandemic outbreak.

After two months of fighting the pandemic in HCM City, Tuấn witnessed many emotional stories that he later wrote in the book titled: “Saigon and the pandemic: fragments of memory”.

Tuấn spent all the money from the sale of that book to buy warm blankets for Chứt ethnic people in the far reaches of Thượng Hoá near the border in time to cope with the winter cold.

This is his third book. In his first book, Tuấn had spent half of the profits from sales to support the ‘Fund for Anti-Flood Houses’, building floating houses for people in flood-hit areas in Tân Hoá District.

In October 2020, Tuấn called for more than VNĐ700 million ($30,497) to give free meals to patients and their family members at the hospital and support the necessities for people in the villages of Dân Hoá Commune.

Dr Đỗ Thanh Bình, director of Minh Hoá District’s General Hospital, said Tuấn has good professional skills and is full of compassion.

He repeatedly called and helped patients in difficult circumstances, even using his salary to support poor patients. Meaningful activities to help poor patients stem from Tuấn’s ideas, such as giving free meals to patients and installing water purifiers to provide free drinking water for patients.

Tuấn said he has many plans to help more people in Minh Hoá District, and he will do it in the next years. — – VnExpress News

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