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Published: February 25th 2008
Could you take one pint
from my double chin area please....
After a hot dusty day traipsing across the ancient rocks and stones of Angkor Wat, my cool as in temperature, but very impractical white outfit was completely filthy and my sandaled feet had an independent thick sock of dirt wrapped around them. San our tuk tuk driver drove us back to town. We passed the Kantha Bopha children's hospital, as I looked over there were kids standing up on the open space of the second floor balcony wearing hospital gowns, many of them looked very sick indeed, some completely bald, most were wired up to mobile drips with nurses and concerned parents by their sides. But they were all drenched in the most spectacular hue that came from the Angkor sunset which made them all smile and glow like little angels. I shall never forget that image.
If you ever find yourself here in Siem Reap an honourable thing to do is to give blood to the Kantha Bopha Foundation. This children's hospital is on the same road leading to Angkor Wat. This hospital has two sister hospitals in the capital of Phnom Penh, between them they manage to deal with 2000 visits from just the sick children a day,
this amounts to 800,000 visits within the out patients department and 75,000 admissions a year, these include 9000 operations, 400,000 vaccinations and 12,000 births in one whole year. 3,300 families receive health care education a day. They estimate that without Kantha Bopha 3,200 children a year would die from HIV, Malaria and Dengue fever which killed over four hundred kids last year but effected 400,00 people. Dengue fever is a mosquito transmitted virus and the country is currently preparing for the next predicted epidemic that will hit this year in 2008. Symptoms of Dengue fever are severe headaches, rashes, nausea and excruciating joint aches.
While in the dry season hospitals and research centres are doing their best with researching, finding cures and being on an increased viral surveillance watch 24/7. They believe that it is spread throughout the country by more commonly us the tourist and migrant workers! YICKS! Currently there is no vaccine; they are just trying to contain the breeding grounds of the mosquito. So, cover up with spray, don't hang around ponds or lakes especially when it’s raining and cover over any open jars and containers of water as this is where they will breed.
The three main hospitals cost $17 million a year to run, completely funded by generous donations that come in from around the world. The government is currently looking into taking this responsibility over but it could take another ten years to get it all into place. The service is still free to all Cambodians as 95% of Cambodians are too poor to pay for any medical bills at all. The hospitals are also used as a training school for young medical students and humanitarian research; this is giving many young people a great opportunity and vocation in life. One merit the hospital has is that they pay their staff $20 a day which is a very modest living here; they respect their staff which seems to have reciprocated respect back and has now proven to have beaten any corruption issues that is still rife within Cambodia today. No medicines, supplies or money ever goes missing from anywhere within the hospitals or with other patients personal belongings, every one shows the greatest respect for this amazing service. In 2000 the Swiss federal agency for development and Cooperation voted these hospitals as prime examples for the third world development, it was noted
that the care of patients, its employees and its immaculate standards of hygiene were beyond excellent!
All this is thanks to one man the founder and director Dr. Beat Rcihner born in Zurich 13th march 1947, he started way back in 1974 in Phnom Penh at the Kantha Bopha I paediatric hospital. This mission came to an abrupt end with the Khmer rouge then gaining power, so he returned to Switzerland. In 1991 King Norodom Sihanouk and the government asked him to restore then manage this hospital, which he did. In 1996 Dr. Rcihner opened Kantha Bopha II, 1999 he opened Jayavarman V11 hospital here in Siem Reap, 2001 the king gave additional land and saw the opening of a new maternity ward, featuring effective measures to reduce mother to child HIV transmission and the good work keeps coming. Dr. Rciher raised funds to build one hospital by asking the Swiss people to donate a single twenty Swiss franc bill each, the money poured in, he continues in raising funds every Saturday night by playing concerts of Bach on his cello for free, donations only.
My experience was simple; I was guided into the treatment room by a
security guard, where they spoke little but OK English. I didn't know my blood type so the nurse tested it straight away. She told me I am O positive and exceptionally special! I later found out this to be true as I only share this group with around 32% of the world, which does not sound very good if I was bleeding to death! But why this is so exceptional is that I can give my blood to anyone regardless of their blood group A, B or O which covers an amazing 83%. My bloods versatility is because it does not have A or B antigens covering the blood cells so it can blend in, it can assist new mothers and babies, cancer patients, serious trauma patients, so my blood group rare as it is can actually help 8 out of 10 patients.
The needle was new, the nurse was great at finding my vein, the incision didn't hurt much at all and after draining one pint of blood it was all over in 10 minutes. She gave me a fizzy drink then took my photo and gave me a goodie bag with a big packet of biscuits, a
white 'blood donation' t-shirt and written information. She told me if I came back in seven days she can give me a free diagnoses to weather I have HIV, Hep A B and C and all the rest of the blood diseases, she handed me a week’s worth of multi vitamins and iron pills. I gave a handsome cash donation. They are open seven days a week and are very happy to see you.
To read more information on the hospitals, its founder and where to donate : Kantha Bopha
If you are looking for a great tuk tuk man here look no further. San Kim can be reached on (855) 12322050 or email SAN_KIM03@yahoo.com
He speaks great English, he listens to what you need to do while there, he knows the best times of the day to do things (especially for great photos) he is on time and never complains about anything, geniune, honest with charging, knows great places to go and see, good man.
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