In late November 2012, we were leaving Kayeng’s home after spending a couple of hours with Kayeng and his family. Barbara and Kayeng’s grandmother hugged goodbye. Suddenly, the grandmother began to cry. She asked Barbara if she could find help for Kayeng. Without giving it a second thought or consulting with me, Barbara said “Yes, we will do everything in our power to help Kayeng.” It was the nurse in Barbara.
Thanks to the global reach of the Internet, I sent out a flurry of emails appealing for information, guidance and help. I contacted a number of doctors in Boston, California, Laos, Korea and Thailand. Two ophthalmologists Dr. Phetsamone, Head of the Eye Clinic in Oudomxai Province in northern Laos and Dr. Nattawut Ophthalmologist/Surgeon at Bangkok’s Bumrungrad Internationl Hospital agreed to look at Kayeng in Luang Prabang, Laos on December 20. If it made sense, they indicated they were prepared to operate.
We met two of the most wonderful people in the Luang Prabang International Airport terminal. Both Dr. Nattawut’s welcoming smile and humble posture and Dr. Phetsamone’s matching smile and caring hospitable personality made us immediate friends.
While having a quick bite to eat along the Khan River, I thanked Dr. Nattawut for arriving a day earlier to examine and help Kayeng. He responded profoundly with his charismatic smile, “If We Don’t Help the Kid, Who Else Will?”
After lunch, we met Kayeng and his parents at the Luang Prabang Provincial Eye Clinic. The two doctors were joined by Kayeng’s ophthalomologist Dr Kormoua from his home province.
Upon examining Kayeng, Dr. Nattawut felt that Kayeng’s needs were much greater than what Dr. Nattawut could do alone in Luang Prabang. He needed other surgical specialists to accompany him in complex set of procedures. He immediately called Dr. Yee his colleague and Deputy Managing Director of the world class Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok. To our great surprise, he received a positive response from Dr. Yee that Bumrungrad would do what they could to help Kayeng. Dr. Nattawut needed a few days after returning to Bangkok to confirm their commitment.
Upon arriving at the Eye Center at Bumrungrad one month later on January 25, 2013, Dr. Nattawut and Dr. Yee welcomed us and assured the hospital’s support to do whatever they could to help Kayeng. As anyone could imagine, Kayeng received an unfathomable gift from Bumrungrad, its volunteer surgeons and from above.
As we began a five-day battery of examinations, we learned that Dr. Nattawut put together an incredible team of specialists to help Kayeng. With the support from Dr. Yee and the hospital’s managing director Dr. Num, the hospital staff anticipated Kayeng’s arrival and gave him the red carpet treatment.