Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Woman gets life-saving heart surgery with help of determined church family and CHAD

Sean Yean, 47, front, poses at UMC's Global Ministries office in Phnom Penh Wednesday with a team of supporters from her church who are doubling as blood donors for her heart surgery, scheduled for today. They are, from left, Chhean Samoun; her daughter, Leat Sinat; and Heam Sokkhet.

Seang Yean's story could have been one of despair. She could have taken the diagnosis quietly and gone home to die, like many in her poverty-stricken village in Kampong Thom Province would have.

But Yean had a church family behind her. And they weren't about to let that happen.

When the 47-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with a defective heart valve this month, the doctor gave her two options: Have surgery immediately or die in a matter of weeks.

The diagnosis was devastating. How could Yean, a poor rice farmer who had been out of work sick for the last year, afford such an expensive procedure?

Her church didn't know the answer to that question either. But they started raising money anyway. It wasn't much. After all, most of Yean's fellow church members live harvest-to-harvest, just like her. In a week, they had managed to scrape together $25.

It would be enough to get Yean to and from the hospital along with her three blood donors while paying for meals and lodging during their stay. It was still nowhere near enough to pay for open heart surgery.

Fortunately for Yean, her church had more than just money to contribute. After extensive Mobilizing the Church training sessions in their district, the members of Okroch Methodist Church knew this wasn't the end of the road for Yean, that someone somewhere — a non-profit hospital, a private donor — would be able to help.

That's why they contacted CHAD. Staff member Sok Sophal was able to walk Yean through the process, from her provincial hospital visit to her visit to Phnom Penh to see a specialist. And even though CHAD itself doesn't pay for surgeries, the program was able to connect Yean with someone who did.

Today, Yean is undergoing surgery with a team of volunteer heart doctors at Jeremiah Hope Clinic. The initial outlook is good, doctors say. She could be back home in two weeks, all because her church refused to give up on her.

Want to know more about Yean?
Watch the blog over the next few weeks for updates on her progress.

What is Mobilizing the Church Training?
CHAD's training sessions cover more than just health advocacy. These workshops are all about building up outreach-oriented congregations like the one at Okroch. This means training in evangelism, leadership and empowerment as well.

Donate to CHAD's Health Program here. Donate to Mobilizing the Church Training here.

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