Vietnam’s netizens mobilise to save foreign volunteer hinh anh 1Eldniz Nasabli on his bed at the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - A Thursday morning at the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) is just like every other weekday morning at a hospital: crowded, noisy with patients awaiting medical examinations.

A group of four women standing by the reception desk near the hospital’s entrance, are busy writing wishes on a stack of envelopes. They are here to visit a 25-year-old Azerbaijani patient who came to Vietnam as a volunteer, fell sick while teaching English to children in the northern mountainous province of Son La, and discovered he had acute myeloid leukemia.

Eldniz Nasabli was transferred from the Son La General Hospital to NIHBT on the morning of June 7 after a week of suffering from high fever and uncontrollable bleeding gums. Apart from leukemia, he was also diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) – a complicated, fatal condition that costs a lot of money to cure, said doctor Vu Quang Hung, deputy director of NIHBT’s chemotherapy department.

“He was admitted to the hospital in critical condition due to considerable blood loss,” Hung told the Dan Tri online newspaper. “We immediately conducted tests and performed blood transfusions.”

By June 19, forty-seven units of type B blood (11.7 litres) were transfused into Eldniz’s body. “He is a particularly severe case that requires such an amount of blood in such a short period of time,” Hung added.  

Eldniz’s condition has been stabilised. Since his wish to return to his home country for treatment was dismissed by doctors because changes of pressure on airplanes during long flights could put his life at risk, Eldniz continues receiving blood transfusion and chemotherapy at NIHBT.

The young patient’s story has gone viral, with netizens writing about his condition on social media, spreading the word, asking their friends for blood and money donations.

Chinh Vu, a social media user, took lead in collecting money donations via bank transfer and gave them to Eldniz. By June 19 night she received some 105 million VND (4,600 USD) from friends and acquaintances who got to know about him through her social media posts.

“Having worked with a lot of foreigners in Vietnam, I understand how horrific it is for them to fall sick in a strange place,” Chinh Vu wrote on her personal page.  “I have never called for donations like this before […], but for this particular case, I myself would not be enough,” she wrote. “He needs more support from you, from your friends and from many other golden hearts of Vietnam.”

Nguyen Anh Tri, General Director of NIHBT, also wrote about Eldniz’s situation on his social media account. “As soon as he knew about his son’s illness, Eldiz’s father – Mr Valekh Nakhibov, a 59-year-old retired university professor – flew to Hanoi to take care of him,” he wrote.

“Some 2,000 USD, which is all his family got after asking everyone they know, was brought here to pay for his son’s medical expenses,” he wrote on June 19. “Adding it to the amount raised by donors, it barely covered medication fees in this first phase of treatment. I’d like to ask all of you to lend a helping hand to the child of the beloved country Azerbaijan that stayed close to us during wartime.”

The hospital was also doing its best to support the young patient – calling for donors, sponsors, and providing him and his father with free meals since the beginning of their stay, Tri wrote.

Second home

The door of a patient room on the seventh floor of the NIHBT opened, revealing Eldniz who seemed to be asleep in his light blue hospital pijamas. Recognising he had visitors, Eldniz opened his eyes and barely mouthed: “Hi, please come in.”

The four visitors took turns talking to Eldniz and wishing him well, while he could only thank them ever so slowly and quietly as he was feeling unwell.

As their conversation with Eldniz and his father advanced, tears welled in the eyes of Tong Minh Nguyet – one of the visitors – as she revealed that she had been fighting breast cancer for nine years. “I understand the struggles he is going through,” she said. “I believe he will make it – the higher powers will help him – because he has such a big heart.”

Nguyet said she only got to know about Eldniz on June 21 through the internet. “Within one morning I was able to call for donations of 6 million VND (264 USD) from my friends, who also came here with me today,” she said. “It’s not much, but it represents our sincere hope that he will overcome this hardship,” she said.

Although he couldn’t talk much, Eldniz nodded in appreciation with every well-meaning word his visitors said.

“I’m so touched by all the love I received from Vietnamese people,” he said. “Vietnam is my second home now.”-VNA