Baby abandoned in plastic bag in Vietnam gets medical help in Singapore

PHOTO: Singapore Press Holdings

She turned a month old today (April 24), but little Trieu Hoai An has had a difficult life.

Shortly after she was born, the baby was abandoned in a plastic bag that was left hanging on a tree in a coffee plantation.

Hoai An was on the brink of death when she was discovered by a farmer on March 29, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

Maggots were crawling all over her tiny body. She had a visible wound on her head, and her skin was scratched and sunburnt.

The farmer took her to a nearby hospital where it was revealed that insect bites had caused her head wound, which worsened because she could hardly move when she was hung up on the tree.

Doctors there suspected that she suffers from a central nervous system disorder called hydranencephaly. The rare condition is characterised by an enlarged head and neurological deficits.

Many patients with the condition do not live past their first birthday.

Venerable Minh Tai held a prayer session for the ill baby.Photo: Singapore Press Holdings

When she was contacted by the hospital, Venerable Minh Tai from Hue Quang monastery took Hoai An into her care.

Unable to get the medical care the baby needs in Vietnam, the abbot brought the baby to Singapore with the help from charity organisations.

When she first arrived at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard) on April 10, Hoai An had a high fever, an enlarged head, as well as a serious infection, said the neurosurgeon in charge of the case.

The infant has since undergone two procedures to drain excess fluid from her head and is recovering well from the infection.

Doctors will then determine whether she is suffering from hydranencephaly, and decide on the appropriate treatment.

Photo: Singapore Press Holdings

Despite the bleak prognosis, her caretakers, hospital staff, as well as several Vietnamese women living in Singapore threw Hoai An a small party this morning to cheer her on. Venerable Minh Tai and another nun also prayed for her health.

The $25,000 raised by kind-hearted members of the public in Vietnam has been used to pay for medical bills incurred during the first eight days of Hoai An's hospital stay, but more funds will be needed as the infant continues treatment in Singapore, Venerable Minh Tai said.

According to Wanbao, the hospital is also considering providing financial aid to the baby.

lamminlee@asiaone.com