Fixing a Broken Heart

Nguyen was dying. She had a congenital heart valve defect that was slowly getting worse. The 36-year-old widow could no longer work as a day laborer in the rice and coffee fields of southern Vietnam. Without a job she had no way to support herself and her 10-year-old daughter, so she moved back in with her elderly parents for help.

Nguyen was receiving medicine through a program for ethnic minorities we support in partnership with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), but it wasn’t doing much to help her heart problem. She desperately needed surgery but could not afford it.

The double-valve replacement that would save her life — a common procedure in the U.S. — was nearly impossible for Nguyen to get because of her poverty and the lack of specialized medical care available in most of Vietnam.

“One of the sisters with FMM told me the situation and asked if Cross Catholic could help. I immediately said yes,” recalls Mike Wilson, Cross International Catholic Outreach Projects Director. “Without the surgery she would have died.”

Nguyen with year 10-year-old daughter a few months after the Cross International-funded heart surgery that saved her life.

Nguyen with year 10-year-old daughter a few months after the Cross International Catholic Outreach-funded heart surgery that saved her life.

A few months later, Nguyen had her surgery. Cross Catholic paid for the procedure itself, pre- and post-operative care, and the eight-hour trip from Nguyen’s hometown in Southern Vietnam to the capital — the only place she could get the surgery.

On a recent trip to Vietnam, Mike had the pleasure of meeting Nguyen and her daughter. The woman he met hardly resembled the tired and frail one from the before photos he had seen — Nguyen had energy and life in her eyes.

“To see her up and walking was an incredible experience. There was a glow to her that you often don’t see in Vietnam,” Mike says. “She was so thankful to be alive and well for the first time in a long time.”

Just seven months after Cross Catholic said “yes” to funding her surgery, Nguyen was up and walking, something she hadn’t done in months.

“Now I can sit to the table and help my daughter with her homework,” Nguyen told Mike. “Before I was confined to bed. Praise God for this amazing miracle!”

Nguyen is excited that she will soon be able to go back to work and once again care for her daughter and help her elderly parents.

“You have given me more than just a surgery,” she said, a broad smile sweeping across her face. “You have given me a future and a life with my daughter.”

We are able to fund unplanned needs such as Nguyen’s surgery because of the generosity of our Catholic supporters. Click here too learn more about our work with the poor in Vietnam.