Nguyen Ngoc Anh smiles when she plays with other kids.
But the fun does not last long as the 21-month-old is prone to sudden fevers and seizures due to bursting red blood cells. The fevers and seizures require immediate hospitalization and a blood transfusion.
Anh has Thalasassemia, an autosomal recessive blood disorder also known as a kind of congenital anemia, and is being treated at the Ho Chi Minh City Children's Hospital No. 2's Hematology and Tumor Department.
Her father left the family when he learned about the disease.
The 24-year-old mother Nguyen Thi Huong is struggling with expenses by selling lottery tickets in HCMC, where she had hoped for a better future after leaving her poor hometown in the north central region's Nghe An Province as a girl.
She and the baby are living at a small and damp room for rent that costs VND800,000 (US$38) a month, before utility bills.
Still, Huong is grateful for what she has.
"It's too good to have at least a place to stay and take care of my child," she said.
"But I have to take her to the hospital on the 20th of every month for blood transfusions."
She carries the baby to the hospital by bicycle, and emergencies often bring her there more than once a month.
"When it's time for lunch or dinner, we ask for charity vegetarian meals at the hospital, we don't have money for that," the mother said.
She said her family in Nghe An, around 1,400 kilometers from the city, is very concerned about her and the baby, and want to visit her but the cost of travel is too much.
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