Posted on 28 October, 2014

7 year-old Vath is very different to his identical twin brother. He was born with a rare and complext congenital heart defect known as “Tetralogy of Fallot” and wasn’t going to survive into adulthood without open-heart surgery.

His condition, which is traditionally identified and repaired at birth or early infancy, involves 4 heart defects; a largeventricular septal defect, pulmonary stenosis, right ventricular hypertrophy and an overriding aorta. It occurs approximately five in every 10,000 babies.

Open Heart International (OHI) first met Vath in August 2013. His symptoms included a bluish coloration of the skin, shortness of breath and clubbing of his fingers and toes caused by blood low in oxygen.

(Photo: Vath last year)

He was very sick and desperately needed surgery. OHI volunteers corrected one of his four conditions with a BT Shunt, to get him well enough for full corrective surgery in the future.

OHI operates at the charity run Angkor Hospital for Children to help kids like Vath who would otherwise have no access to surgery. Vath’s parents are rice farmers and earn around $7 per day. The cost of open-heart surgery is around$3,500.

Last week Vath received his second open-heart surgery from OHI and is now on the road to making a full recovery. His parents said that they were nervous during his second procedure as it took more than 5 hours.

“We were afraid he might be too weak to make it through the operation, but we trusted the Australian doctors and nurses.”

Rebecca Din, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nursing Unit Manager at the Sydney Adventist Hospital’s Corony Care Unit, said the team thought he was going to be really sick post-op because his surgery was so complicated.


“He has surprised us all and is making a remarkable recovery..He is bright, happy and friendly little boy, and all the team just adore him” Rebecca says.

“Our hope is that he will now be able to keep up with his twin brother and live a normal life.”

His parents hope he becomes a doctor or a nurse when he grows up.


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