First lady meets with hospital officials to discuss treatment for Cambodian child

BALI, Indonesia– First lady Kim Keon-hee revisited a hospital in Phnom Penh to discuss ways to provide treatment for a Cambodian child with a congenital heart disease, the presidential office said Monday.

Kim returned to Hebron Medical Center, which was established by a South Korean pediatrician and remains largely run by South Korean medical professionals, on Sunday, two days after her first visit and hours before departing for Indonesia on the second leg of her regional tour with President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The second visit came after Kim visited the home of a Cambodian child, 14-year-old Ratha, who underwent heart surgery at the hospital, and learned that the family had little means to pay for his second surgery because the father died before he was born and the mother is unhealthy, leaving him in the care of his sister-in-law who works as a cleaner.

The hospital’s chief, Lee Young-don, told the first lady that a longtime patron of the center indicated his wish to sponsor Ratha’s treatment in South Korea upon reading articles on her visit.
He also said the center has been inundated with calls from people offering to pay for Ratha’s transportation and expenses in South Korea.

“Finally a path to life has been opened,” Kim said, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung. “If more people learn about Hebron Medical Center in South Korea and elsewhere, leading to even one more life being saved, that will make the family happy and brighten our entire society with hope.

“If I can be of help to such work that gives hope, I would like to actively play that role,” she added.

The spokesperson said Kim’s second visit was Yoon’s idea, as she worried about how to help Ratha, and that the visit made her unable to attend a Cambodian government program for spouses of leaders attending regional summits in Phnom Penh.

Lee, the hospital chief, gave Kim a cross that was hanging on the hospital’s wall.

“This cross has been hanging on the wall for a long time, but no one showed much interest in it. The first lady happened to show an interest last Friday and asked about it, so out of gratitude, I would like to give it to you as a gift,” he said. “I think Hebron Medical Center and Ratha are like this cross that no one was interested in but took on special meaning after someone took an interest.”

The first lady urged the hospital chief to take care of himself in his own health battle.

Separately, Kim also met with young South Koreans running businesses in Cambodia, such as a snack restaurant and a retail store, and encouraged them.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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