Success Stories

Who is Herbie helping?

An Binh, Vietnam

Meet Our Hero: An Binh

Child’s condition: Hirschsprung’s Disease
Age: 13 (July 16, 1997)

13-year-old An Binh is a hospital veteran. Before coming to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in January 2011, he already had at least 12 surgical procedures in his home country, Vietnam.

An Binh was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a congenital disorder of the intestinal tract that prevents normal function and requires surgical repair early during childhood. Coming from a family of limited means, much of his parent’s earnings were used to pay for An Bihn’s ongoing medical care. He was also limited from physical activity, which isolated him from many of his peers at school.

Surgeons in Vietnam made numerous attempts to surgically improve his condition until, eventually, he was referred to the Herbie Fund at SickKids. The Herbie Medical Review Committee examined the medical reports and determined that the combined expertise of the SickKids Urologists and General Surgeons would lead to a more effective surgical solution and An Binh was accepted for treatment. He arrived in Toronto with his mother, Tran Thi, at the end of December 2010, leaving his father and two brothers behind in Vietnam.

On January 19, 2011, An Binh entered the SickKids operating room at 8:00 a.m. and underwent a nine-hour surgery performed by Urologist Walid Farhat and General Surgeon Jack Langer. Although the surgery went well, he experienced a few complications and required some additional procedures after his day-long operation. He was discharged from hospital in April and returned on May 13 for his final clinic visit.

Despite being given clearance to return home at the end of May, it was important for the family to stay longer to participate in Herbie Day on May 27, 2011 to express their gratitude.

“My heart felt hurt before coming to SickKids, but now I feel released,” says Tran Thi.

Mother and son flew back to Vietnam in early June – five months after arriving in Toronto. They had mixed emotions about leaving Canada after all that time. They were happy, of course, to be reunited with family, but sad to leave behind all the new friends they made during their visit.

Even after everything An Binh has been through in Vietnam and Canada, he is still mindful of all other children who rely on medical treatment at SickKids:

“I really wish the next kids to be operated on successfully – I really pray for them,” says An Bihn. “I’ve been operated on so many times, so I know how it goes, and I really wish for it to be better for them.”

He will now be able to attend school fulltime, rather than two to three days per week. His parents are truly grateful to the Herbie Fund for significantly improving their son’s life.

Why SickKids?

The Division of Paediatric General and Thoracic Surgery performs more than 2,000 operations per year for a wide variety of conditions including birth defects of the Gastrointestinal, genitourital and thoracic systems , cancer, inflammatory diseases and traumatic injury.