The man, only identified as Vu Dinh L., from Thanh Hoa Province around 200 kilometers from Hanoi, was butted in his chest by a buffalo when he was two years old.
But he only received a surgery at Vietnam National Institute of Cardiology in Hanoi on December 7 after a recent checkup revealed his heart had swollen three times bigger than normal.
X-ray photos showed the man’s heart was covered with a blood clot mass and fluid, which was pushing his heart about 15 centimeters to the right of its normal location.
A three-hour operation successfully removed the mass.
Duong Duc Hung, the chief surgeon in the case, said the heart “was broken,” and had been releasing blood and fluid that could have exploded and killed the patient, Tuoi Tre reported.
This is a rare case in Vietnam and possibly in the world, said Hung, who has been performing heart surgeries for 22 years.
“Normally, when the heart is damaged, there is an acute obstruction of the blood flow and the patient would only survive for several minutes without urgent medical intervention. But this man has lived for nearly 20 years with the damage,” he said.
The man is recovering and is expected to be released from the hospital next week, doctors said.
They also said the condition has severely affected the man's health, making him look like a 15-year-old.
The family of the patient said he has been growing, going to school and to work like other people. Sometimes L. felt some tightness in his chest and had difficulty breathing, but he thought it was normal.
He only went for examination after the pains became unbearable for more than a month.
Surgeon Hung said in a Tuoi Tre report that people cannot clearly feel damages to internal organs, but it’s abnormal to have recurring pains, and they should get an exam to prevent potentially harmful consequences.