Life has not been very kind to Nguyen Duy Hai.
Hai carries an 80-kilogram growth on his body. For the past three years, the tumor-like growth has ruled the 31 year-old Da Lat man's life. He has had to remain in a permanent sitting position"”even when he sleeps"”and must rely on his mother to attend to all of his needs.
Doctor Le Hoang Minh of the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital said he has treated patients with tumors weighing 10-20 kilograms, but had never seen such an abnormal growth the size of Hai's.
According to Nguyen Thi Cho Con, Hai's 61-year-old mother, Hai is the fourth of her five children.
He was a normal child when he was born, she said, but his health deteriorated as he got older.
He could not walk and barely stood on his feet. When he turned four, his right leg grew quite bigger than the left leg.
He managed to go to school on a pair of wooden crutches.
Hai dropped school at the age of 11 due to the problems caused by his oversized right leg.
By the time he reached 17, his leg had swelled to 25 kilograms. His family took him to Lam Dong General Hospital, where doctors proved unable to render a diagnosis.
After the bizarre growth immobilized Hai, they decided to amputate his leg at the hip.
After the surgery, Hai had several happy years when he could walk with the help of a pair of crutches, his mother said.
But things took a turn for the worst in 2001, when the tumor returned. It has continued to grow, ever since, and has since swallowed portions of his buttocks and back.
The tumor is now 1 meter wide and weighs roughly 80 kilograms (176 pounds).
"When the weather changes, his tumor causes him terrible pains," his mother said in tears.
Hai resorts to painkillers to get through the day.
"He cannot lie down to sleep like normal people," Con said. "My heart is broken whenever I look at him."
Con said she could not afford a surgery for Hai to get rid of the tumor. Since Hai's father passed away in 1997, the family is mainly supported by his sister who lives in the US.
Hai said he is willing to risk his life to be a normal person just for one day.
"I just want to work so that I can feed myself and my ailing mother," he said.
Help on the way
On Monday (June 20), Dr Le Hoang Minh of the HCMC Oncology Hospital said a group of doctors will visit Hai on June 24 to determine a diagnosis and appropriate course of treatment.
Authorities in Da Lat Town's Ward 3, where Hai and his family live, are raising funds from local organizations and philanthropists to cover the cost of his treatment.
Hai's story has touched Amanda Schumacher, President and Founder of US-based Tree of Life Foundation International, which is raising funds for Hai's treatment.
The Tree of Life Foundation in an email on June 21 told Thanh Nien Weekly that Dr. McKay McKinnon, a renowned Chicago-based plastic surgeon, is willing to take his medical team to Vietnam to perform this very high-risk surgery.
Dr. McKinnon has performed a number of tumor removal surgeries, including an 18-hour surgery in 2000, when he operated on a woman with a 200-pound tumor.
In 2004, McKinnon traveled to Romania, along with 12 other doctors, to perform a 10-hour operation to remove an 80-pound tumor from a 47-year-old woman. The woman suffers from a genetic disorder causing tumors to grow on her body.
If you would like to donate to this cause and be a part of this life changing experience, please visit the TOLF International website at www.treeoflifefi.org.