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China-funded free surgery program brings back joyful life to Lao children

© Provided by Xinhua

By Chanthaphaphone Mixayboua, Zhang Jianhua

VIENTIANE, July 31 (Xinhua) -- A girl from northern Laos' hilly Oudomxay province has returned to a joyful life after she had her congenital heart disease (CHD) remedied by Chinese surgeons.

Pasahak Suliya, an 11-year-old girl, has one younger sister. She said that playing with her sister and going for a walk in the park together is her routine, and playing sports is one of her favorite things to do.

"I love playing sports, and badminton is my favorite. I started playing badminton when I was eight years old," she told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Pasahak really enjoys playing badminton. Her eyes sparkled with excitement when talking about her favorite activity, saying that she can play badminton every day.

However, her health issue interfered with her enjoyable life.

"Before the surgery, I was tired so easily. I felt tired after running for just a short time. Sometimes I got headaches and felt irritable as well," Pasahak told Xinhua.

© Provided by Xinhua

Vongphet Suliya, a 41-year-old man and Pasahak's father, told Xinhua on Wednesday that her eldest child has a unique personality. She has been a bright person and has loved to play sports since she was little, but she couldn't do her favorite activities long because she has been getting tired easily.

"After playing with friends for a while, Pasahak would have shortness of breath and get tired easily compared to others. At that moment, we didn't realize that she was having heart problems. We thought that it might be a common thing for children to get tired after playing a lot, and she would be alright after taking some rest," said the father.

Vongphet usually creates a daily schedule for his family members because he wants his children to have a variety of activities to do after school. For example, after finishing doing homework, his children must help do some housework, such as cooking, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the house or feeding chickens, ducks and dogs.

"When we asked Pasahak to help with housework, she often told us that she was tired. I never thought that it was the symptoms of heart problems."

"When we heard that there will be a CHD screening and treatment program by experts, we decided to take our daughter for an examination."

On June 17, a team of 13 Chinese medical experts from Fuwai Yunnan Cardiovascular Hospital (FYCH), together with medical staff from Mahosot hospital in Lao capital Vientiane, started a five-day CHD screening and treatment program in northern Laos.

© Provided by Xinhua

The humanitarian aid program, namely "the Laos-China Children CHD Screening and Treatment" themed "Belt and Road, connecting the people's hearts", was launched by the China Charity Federation and southwestern China's Yunnan Province, which borders Laos in its south.

After screening, the Chinese medical team took 13 patients to Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane for free re-examined treatment.

Fuwai Yunnan Cardiovascular Hospital is a first-class hospital specializing in cardiovascular diseases. Under the guidance of the Belt and Road Initiative, the hospital has liaisons with Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, and Cambodia, and has carried out some field visits and academic exchange activities since 2017.

Vongphet said he and his wife were surprised when the doctor told them that their beloved daughter had CHD and needed surgery.

"We were very worried after hearing that our daughter needed surgery. Because we've never experienced this kind of surgery in our families or relatives before."

It turned out the program provided not only the treatment costs but also train tickets, accommodation and some meal allowances. Vongphet said that he was a little nervous about the cost of treatment, but that's not his biggest concern.

The most important thing for parents was to make sure that their beloved children would be safe.

He asked around before receiving treatment to make sure that there would not be any negative effects on his daughter after the operation. Everyone told him not to be worried, saying that his daughter would be in good hands.

© Provided by Xinhua

"My biggest concern is her safety, but this program made me feel relieved because I knew that my daughter had a chance to receive treatment from Chinese medical experts," said the father.

"We've never recognized a heart problem in our daughter or took her for a check-up before. I'm so glad to have such a good program. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for helping my girl to have better health. As a parent, I feel really happy and grateful," he added.

The little brave girl said that she was not afraid of surgery at all.

"The doctor told me that I don't need to be scared, so, I was not afraid on my surgery day. And it didn't take long. It took me only two days to stay at the hospital after the surgery," Pasahak told Xinhua.

After getting back to her hometown, Pasahak felt so fine, "I don't have any side effects after the surgery. I feel normal, just like other people."

"I feel lucky that I was given the opportunity to undergo the surgery that made me feel better. Tiredness is now gone," she expressed her satisfaction at being able to have a healthy, normal life.

Her father watched his daughter closely. "After the surgery, I noticed that my daughter is getting better. She doesn't complain about how tired she is and also being able to do activities longer. I am happy that the surgery went well."

Currently, Pasahak can live normally like other children, though her father would advise her to avoid intensive exercises or activities.

Vongphet told Xinhua about his expectation of his daughter. "I wish my daughter will stay healthy, be able to help ease her parents' burden and stay focused on her studies."

Pasahak studies very hard, especially in foreign language classes.

"I like to study Chinese and English. I believe that it will help me get a good job. After graduating, I also want to work abroad, especially in China. I want to be an interpreter in China," said Pasahak.