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Patient with special HIV infection received successful heart surgery

Sept. 18, 2018

On May 18th, doctors from the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department of Viet Duc Friendship Hospital (Việt Nam-Germany Hospital) successfully conducted an eight-hour heart surgery on a female patient with the HIV virus. This is also the first case of rescued Marfan syndrome with HIV infection in Vietnam.
The patient was a 42-year-old woman who has been living in Haiphong and was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, diagnosed of having HIV 2005, and has been receiving antiretroviral therapy since 2007. She is a very active member among the HIV/AIDS community. In Hai Phong, hundreds of drug addicts have been rescued and hundreds of people in Hai Phong have access to treatment for HIV and methadone. She was hospitalized on May 4th 2017.

Photo: The patient in her community activities in Hai Phong

On May 9th 2017, Associate Professor Nguyễn Hữu Ước, head of the hospital’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department - Viet Duc Friendship Hospital with Dr. Phung Duy Hong Son, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department, along with more than 10 doctors and physicians conducted the surgery on the patient. Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc said the surgery was very  complicated because the patients had Marphan Syndrome. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue, with 0.5 per cent of the population suffering from this disease. The patients with Marfan syndrome have a variety of pathologies in the eye, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular systems..., hospitalized in a condition of having suffered from type-A aortic aneurysm, aortic insufficiency, mitral incompetence.
According to Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc, type-A aortic aneurysm is a serious life-threatening disease. Aortic aneurysm is only seen with a frequency of 3-4 patients/100,000 people/ year. The survival rate of patients with aortic aneurysm without treatment after 1 year is below 10%.


Photo by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Huu Uoc and colleagues, sharing information after the surgery (Source: Health & Life Newspaper)

It is noteworthy that the patient was diagnosed with HIV infection, thus the immune system was depleted, so the risk of infection was very high during and after surgery. In addition, the risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS for physicians performing surgery was fairly high, the heart surgery was believed to be complicated.
"In the past, we had surgery for patients with HIV, but most were mild pathologies, short surgery duration, and extremely low risk of exposure. Meanwhile, with type-A aortic aneurysm - the riskiest case among open-heart surgeries – the surgery is expected to last for a very long time (from 7-8 hours), so the risk of infection is pretty high. "
 "People with HIV, suffering from any serious illness are cared for, and are equal in treatment" said Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc. Not all employees were brave enough to take the job right away. The process of overcoming ourselves is considering how to perform the best practice on patient, ensuring the patient’s human rights but still ensuring the safety of all doctors and physicians. "

 Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc - head of the hospital’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department (Viet Duc Friendship Hospital)

The surgery lasted 8 hours, from 8am to 4.30pm. Afterwards, the patient was transferred to the Department of Surgical Oncology and received internal medicine treatment. Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc said that patients are expected to leave the hospital the next week.

SCDI would like to express our sincere gratitude to the doctors of Viet Duc Hospital, especially Dr. Nguyen Huu Uoc and his words "Ensuring the citizen and human rights in the treatment of diseases."
We would like to thank our partners, SCDI colleagues for supporting patients in the most difficult situations. This good news is not only the happiness of patients and their families, it is also the joy of tens of thousands of people living with HIV in Vietnam, who are receiving equal treatment in the society and having better health everyday.
On the same day, newspapers and television programs such as Health & Life Magazine, VTV24, Daily Life ... also reported on this special event.


Reference source (In Vietnamese): (click on the headlines to read and watch)
Health & Life Magazine
Family & Social Newspaper
VTV24 program
Daily Life Program on May 18th 2017 (From 19:27 to 20:09)


Vân Anh


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