Nha works at the hospital of Semmelweis University, which is the oldest medical school in Hungary founded in 1769.

A gastroenterologist, she was deployed to work in the hospital’s center for treatment of severe COVID-19 patients for 15 months last year, which was the most difficult period of the pandemic in Hungary.

Thanks to the deployment, Nha got to know more about the lives of her compatriots and their obstacles while confronting COVID-19.

The Vietnamese doctor found an effective initiative to help them.

Getting infected twice

Like other health workers working in any country in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nha ran into many challenges while working with coronavirus patients from March 2020 to May 2021.

She got infected with the virus two times and delayed her marriage at least three times because of several waves of infections that occurred in Hungary last year.

When there was not a COVID-19 vaccine available, she did not dare to go home for fear of transmitting the virus to her husband.

So the couple lived apart despite both of them living in the same city, Budapest.

One of the most heart-breaking experiences Nha encountered, however, was her father-in-law’s passing away far from Nha’s hospital.

His death left Nha shocked as she could not do anything to save him while she was treating many other COVID-19 patients.

Living far from her own parents, who reside in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, she loved her father-in-law as much as her own father.

To her own surprise, Nha asked for psychological help for her mental health after having to see in person what had happened to her patients and co-workers.

“I have never experienced the same period in my life before,” Nha commented about the terrible situations she faced in those 15 months.

She once believed that as an experienced doctor, she would be able to face anything happening in the hospital. But she then realized that was not true.

“We are praised by people to be heroes in fighting against the pandemic,” Nha said.

“In my opinion, it’s the brave people around me that help the most, who are the final guardians at the border of life and death.

“I hope they would not have to shed tears and be extremely disappointed daily or even hourly.

“If people can say ‘no’ to gatherings, if they don’t try to behave in a selfish manner, if they don’t ignore rules of restrictions preventing the virus, we would likely not feel so sad.”

Doctor Hoa Nha on the morning she got the news of her father-in-law’s death. One of her coworkers took the photo without knowing her intense emotion that morning. Photo supplied.

Doctor Le Ngoc Hoa Nha stands on the morning when she got the news of her father-in-law’s death. One of her co-workers took the photo without knowing her intense emotion that morning. Photo: Supplied

Live-streaming to help the Vietnamese community

Before the pandemic, Nha mostly worked with Hungarian patients.

She met with many more compatriots during the outbreak and found that they really lacked official information relating to the disease, due partly to a language barrier.

“It seems to me that some of them are ‘hungry’ for formal information about the disease, which leaves them confused and concerned so much,” recalled Dr. Nha.

She arrived at a decision to help them after mulling over a potential solution.

Given her busy schedule as a doctor, Nha chose to host live streams to share with them information on COVID-19 and related things.

While doing this, Nha tried her best to put herself in their shoes to be able to explain complicated terms in the simplest and clearest way.

“In spite of doing that for free, I have to prepare so hard,” Nha laughed.

“The biggest challenge for me for the first few days was a lack of Vietnamese vocabulary.

“Sometimes, it’s extremely difficult for me to find out an exact word or phrase to express my own thoughts.

“Fortunately, many in my audience understand and sympathize with me.”

In addition to COVID-19, Nha also shares her knowledge of digestion and related problems.

Her videos now attract more Vietnamese people who live outside Hungary.

She does not care how many subscribers her YouTube channel gains as to her, “it’s still so good to be able to help just one person in need.”

“My intention is to help people understand the stage of their disease and to reach a more balanced relationship with their doctor,” Nha said about the reasons pushing her to live-stream.

“Thanks to this, they would help the doctor understand more quickly and exactly what their health conditions are.”

Nha decided to take part in the COVID-19 taskforce of the Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts (AVSE Global) recently after finding that she shares many values with the organization.

AVSE is a Paris-headquartered organization of Vietnamese scientists and experts. It was founded with the aim of contributing to Vietnam’s progress.

Nha and other AVSE members have contributed to their home country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in various forms.

They co-write many papers to provide consultancy to the Vietnamese government to have an effective strategy to deal with the health crisis.

They call for help with financial and medical aid for Vietnam during the combat against the virus.

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