A Small Cough, a Devastating Diagnosis: Ngan’s Lifesaving Heart Care at Vietnam National Children’s Hospital

Like many parents around the world, Ngan’s parents were expecting happy news at their one-month-old’s wellness checkup. But during the exam, the doctor detected a heart murmur. She was transferred to Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH), a Children’s HeartLink partner hospital, for additional testing. There, she was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) and two related congenital heart conditions: the stronger left ventricle pumps blood to the lungs and the weaker right ventricle has the harder chore of pumping blood to the entire body.

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Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA), one of Ngan’s heart conditions, affects roughly five out of every 10,000 babies. Untreated, more than 50% of infants with transposition will die in the first month of life, 90% in the first year.

Ngan was diagnosed in 2017, and would need surgery to correct her heart. As a newborn her heart was barely the size of a walnut. The cardiologist advised her parents to monitor her and wait for the right time to perform surgery.

When Ngan was three, her ability to do physical and daily activities was being impacted by her heart condition. Dr. Nguyen Ly Thinh Truong, chief of cardiovascular surgery department at VNCH, brought her case to a virtual case discussion with cardiologists at the University of California San Francisco, coordinated by Children’s HeartLink. These doctors gathered weekly to discuss treatment planning and case troubleshooting, ensuring each patient had a strong and informed treatment plan.

For Ngan, who was having signs of heart failure, it was time to perform lifesaving surgery.

Bedside patient discussions during a Children’s HeartLink training visit to National Children’s Hospital in Vietnam, where Ngan had her heart surgery.

Unfortunately, one month after surgery she was still in heart failure. Dr. Truong once again consulted with the Children’s HeartLink team in California. The medical volunteer team encouraged Ngan’s care team to stay the course of the treatment plan. It worked! Ngan began to get better.

Just one year after needing lifesaving heart surgery, Ngan has recovered fully. She just began primary school this past fall with her friends. Her heart is better, and she is able to do physical activities like many children her age. Her favorite activity? Riding her bike.


Ngan’s path to treatment is one of hope. When you donate today to Children’s HeartLink, you make it possible for children and families around the globe to gain access to heart care that is otherwise unavailable. Ngan is one of an estimated 10,000 children born with congenital heart disease in Vietnam every year, of which 25% require surgery in the first year of life. With support from Children’s HeartLink, cardiologists in Vietnam can diagnose and treat more complex heart conditions, saving the lives of more children like Ngan.

Your support makes Children’s HeartLink’s work possible. Please make a gift today so we can continue to help more children like Ngan.