The white coat dream
After a family tragedy which took away his father’s life and his mother’s sanity, Dung had to live in an orphanage in Da Nang. It was not until recently that Dung reunited with his long lost mother.
Whilst studying at the orphanage, Dung snuck out to find his mom after hearing some news of his background.
The then 10-year-old boy wandered through the streets and shared food with other homeless kids.
Doctor Truong The Dung (C) gives drugs to children in Cambodia
One day, Dung fainted by the train track from hunger. Truong Minh Tuan, a policeman on a business trip, took Dung home to live with him. Although he had a shelter, Dung could not go to school because Tuan was already poor and had five children to take care of.
Finding his mom had to wait. Dung borrowed books from his friends to self-study, with the ambition of becoming a doctor.
At the age of 22, he passed the entrance exams to both Hue Medical University and Quy Nhon Pedagogics University. But he chose to study at a medical vocational school in Da Nang City thanks to its low tuition.
The white coat dream was still burning. He took the exam to get into the Ho Chi Minh City Medical University.
To earn money for tuition fees, after class, Dung would carry a load of motorbike rear mirrors around to sell, while still wearing his uniform.
He smiles, “People supported me a lot because they saw a medical student earning his way to university”.
One person even helped him open a student music CDs shop, located in Tan Binh District at the time, so that he could make money in the future and make his life easier.
The charitable doctor
Once, while on his work experience at Tu Du Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Dung tried to talk a girl out of abortion after seeing the about-to-be-removed fetus move through the ultrasound scan screen.
The female student who “transgressed” asked him, “If I keep the fetus,will you raise it?”. He nodded without having to think.
Dung hired a room for the girl to stay. A few days later, he brought three more pregnant girls there and made sure they were healthy until labor.
The children, all carrying his sur name, are raised by him now.
Hai Au, a club member at Niem Tin (Hope), says Dung took care of cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, as well as street kids, in an apartment in Tan Binh District.
Dung told the street kids, “You’re still healthy, so you should share your meal with the patients”.
The “meal” is just a cooked fish shared among nearly 10 people. Since then, Hai Au and his friends bring food to the house to help when Dung is not around.
Many times, after a coming to the hospital to visit acquaintances, Dung would bring back an underprivileged patient and help with his heart.
In 2010, while doing charity work in Tay Ninh, Dung met a pair of sisters who suffered from domestic violence at the hands of their father.
Immediately, Dung handed a pledge to the local authorities to take the children back to HCMC for treatment and schooling.
Sympathyzing with Dung’s efforts to take care of HIV and cancer patients and children, Nguyen Thi Cuc handed the pharmacy over to Dung at a nominal price in 2006 and Dung then passed on management rights to the voluntary Niem Tin doctors group to run the pharmacy’s business. Profits are all saved for charity works.
Apart from charity works in remote places, everyday the pharmacy receives and gives free medicine to poor patients who suffer from incurable diseases.