Justine Le Mauff, a volunteer, offers a vivid testimonial of a beneficiary at Maison Chance At Maison Chance, Tan is a member of the family. Handicapped and orphan, he died at the age of 17. He will be missed.

Tan joined Maison Chance when he was 11 years old. He suffered from cerebral palsy symptoms. He has difficulty walking and developed spasticity (uncontrolled movement of the head). His condition aggravated last year and a doctor prescribed an operation.

However the operation did not succeed and Tan became quadriplegic. This year has been constant round-trips to hospital. In Vietnam, there is a very advanced medical support si;ilar to western countries. However, these hospitals are not accessible to the ordinary people. Instead at Cho Ray hospital, where Tan has been transferred, the corridors are full of sick and wounded people on makeshift beds.

The Last Year of Duy Tan

Some beds have 2 sick people at the same time. To the crowd of patients, we can add their family members who come to the hospital to take care of their relatives, bring food, and take shift at the bedside, sometimes sleeping under the patient’s bed. When there is a crisis or an emergency, the patient could wait sometimes more than 10 minutes to see a doctor or a nurse.

At the end of last year, Tan suffered from a heart attack and since developed a severe respiratory deficiency. He has been placed under respiratory assistance and the medical team of Maison Chance has been relaying at his bedside to operate a hand pump which must be pumped every 3 seconds. He was transferred to the intensive care on December 31st where he should have been in the first place. There, the Maison Chance team spent New Year’s Eve with Tan while operating the respiratory pump. Tan lived for 3 more weeks with an aggravating pulmonary infection. His adoptive parents decided to take him back home to Long An, 60 km away from Saigon. The beneficiaries and members of Maison Chance went to see him for the last time and he died on 21 January 2010 at 12:40 at the age of 17. At his funeral there were a lot of disabled in wheelchairs. Maison Chance has also rented a bus allowing everybody who had known him during the last 5 years and who wished to assist to his funeral to come. For some, he was a brother, a cousin, for others he was a friend or a nephew. But for all, he was the little jolly fellow. He loved to laugh. With him, a family member has left. Tan’s grave yard is at the end of a walk path, along the rice paddies in the heart of Long An. The beneficiaries of Maison Chance have been with him until the end. It’s a pity that in Vietnam, only the rich have access to advanced medical care. However, in a way, Tan can be considered lucky since he has been supported until the end, while others are simply left to die alone. That is not a consolation in itself.

Justine Le Mauff