Justine Le Mauff, a volunteer, offers a vivid testimonial of a beneficiary at Maison Chance where Tan had been a member of the family for six years. He died at the age of only 17. His death is a great loss for the Maison Chance family. He will be forever remembered.

Tan joined Maison Chance when he was 11 years old. He suffered from cerebral palsy symptoms. Therefore, he had 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 as a consequence Tan became quadriplegic. Constant roundtrips to hospitals followed. In some parts of Vietnam, there is advanced medical support similar to Western countries. However, these hospitals are not accessible to the ordinary people. At Cho Ray hospital, where Tan has been transferred, the corridors were full of sick and wounded people on makeshift beds.

The Last Year of Duy Tan

Some beds had to be sufficed for two patience 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 sleep under the patient’s bed. When there is a crisis or an emergency, sometimes the patient would wait for 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 then, 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 three 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 three 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. He died on January 21, 2010 at 12:40.

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 past five years and who wished to attend his funeral. For some, he was a brother and a cousin, for others a friend or a nephew. But for all, he was the little jolly fellow who loved to laugh. With him, a family member has left.

Tan’s graveyard 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. But that is not a consolation in itself.

Justine Le Mauff