Wonkwang Medical Center Gives Cambodian Girl Free Heart Surgery

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Wonkwang Medical Center Gives Cambodian Girl Free Heart Surgery

"I would really like to get out of bed soon and go out to play with my friends without having to worry about anything. I am very grateful to the Korean doctors for keeping their promise."

These were the first words that Yang Mey Mey (7) a Cambodian girl said to her mother Sou Meng (34) in a faint voice when she woke up after receiving heart surgery at the Wonkwang Medical Center in Iksan, North Cholla province. She was expressing her gratitude despite the pain she must have felt after having a five-hour surgery that began at 8:30 and was performed by Professor Choi Jong-bum (49) of the thoracic surgery department.

The surgery was successful and she will be going back home around August 15 after a ten-day observation period. The surgery cost $45,000 and all the expenses were covered by Wonkwang University and the headquarter of the spreading mercies movement of Won Buddhism.

Her story begins in June of last year when five doctors, including Doctor Oh Man-tek (37, pediatrics) of Wonkwang Medical Center, met her while they were carrying out medical services in Phnom Penh in honor of their colleagues who were killed in a plane crash on their way to Cambodia to perform medical services in September of 1997. Yang Mey Mey was in the National Pediatrics Hospital of Cambodia at the time and was suffering from congenital heart disease. Her state was so critical that she couldn't walk and was also having a very difficult time breathing.

Because her family had no money to pay for the surgery, the volunteer team promised to perform the operation free of charge in Korea. And after only one month, they have fulfilled their promise.

"We were just trying to carry out the volunteer work of our colleagues; who were on their way to Cambodia when they died," said a member of the surgery team that performed the operation.

Wonkwang University plans to perform surgery on 1 or 2 more Cambodian children suffering from heart disease in the near future.

by Seo Hyung-shik

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