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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Date for Cambodian infant's surgery is set

LONG BEACH - Soksamnang Vy, an 11-month old boy from an impoverished village in Cambodia who was brought to the United States for life-altering heart surgery, has had a date set for the procedure.

The Children's Heart Center in Las Vegas, which is donating its staff and facilities for the surgery, has scheduled Vy for an appointment on Dec. 1, with surgery on Dec. 4 or 5.

Vy and his mother, Ratha Pang, arrived in Long Beach on Sunday, accompanied by Peter Chhun, the founder of nonprofit Hearts Without Boundaries, which is sponsoring the trip.

The boy suffers from a ventricular septal defect or hole in his heart.

Although the surgery to fix it is relatively routine in the United States, it requires use of a heart-lung machine and expertise not readily available in Cambodia.

"The baby has a congenital heart defect that without surgery will shorten his life," said Dr. Paul Grossfeld of San Diego, a cardiologist familiar with Vy's condition.

Vy is the second child Chhun has brought out of Cambodia for the open-heart procedure. The first, 9-year-old Davik Teng, had surgery at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles in March and has since returned to her village outside of Battambang in northwest Cambodia.

After surgery, Vy will likely remain in the hospital for three or four days to recover and will stay in Las Vegas another week or two for checkups.

If all goes to plan, Chhun says Vy should be well enough to return home by the end of January.
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