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Tran Ngoc Anh

Ha Noi January 26, 1997 - Roma September 12, 2007



On September 12, 2007, seven days after heart surgery, our 10 year-old dear friend Tran Ngoc Anh from Vietnam, died in Rome, Italy at the Bambino Gesu' Pediatric Hospital. †His mother Huong, his devoted uncle Thang, Ms. Dung with Vietnamese friends living in Rome, Luciana, Stefano, Silvia, Pietro, and I were with him. †


Ngoc Anh had a severe congenital heart malformation and SPIRAL Foundation had been assisting him since the fall of 2004, hoping to find ways to extend his fragile life. His first surgery took place in Hue', Vietnam in 2005, but a few months later his heart was badly functioning again. †


Thanks to a generous invitation from Dr. De Simone of the Bambino Gesu' Pediatric Hospital in Rome and the financing of the hospitalization from the Regione Lazio, Ngoc Anh arrived in Rome together with his mother in September, 2006 and on October the 4th he was operated on by Dr. Roberto Di Donato. After surgery doctors recommended for Ngoc Anh to wait a few months in Italy before returning to Vietnam, hoping that he could become stronger and therefore a candidate for a final surgery that would have saved his life. †


Thanks to the generosity of Nella and Gianni Cerri at Associazione Rosa Verde, a small non profit foundation that takes care of young disabled adults in Ronco Briantino (outskirts of Milano), Ngoc Anh, together with his uncle Thang, found a caring home to stay in while waiting to undergo a third surgery. †


The small community of disabled welcomed him and after a little adjusting, a very profound and strong bonding happened. The disabled found in him a recipient for their need to give and Ngoc Anh enjoyed teaching them a few words in Vietnamese. Luca, my down syndrome cousin that lives at Rosa Verde (he can not write in Italian), started "writing" special friendship letters to Ngoc Anh in Vietnamese. In Rosa Verde, Ngoc Anh was very much loved and he became like a grandchild to Nella and Gianni. †


In between his periodic visits to the Bambino Gesu' in Rome, Ngoc Anh attended the local school. He learned Italian and made many friends. At the end of the school year there was a big party at his school. Every kid in the school said where they wanted their names to be written: some said in the sky, some said in the ocean and Ngoc Anh said he wanted his name written on the walls of that village, so everybody would remember him when he went back to Vietnam. †


In the same village lived my old mother, and two months before Ngoc Anh died, she too passed away. My mother loved him very much. Often she would go visit him at Rosa Verde and bring him a cake. I believe Ngoc Anh was a real smile in the last month of my mother's life. †


Ngoc Anh's Italian nick name was "Cipollino," little onion. On New Years Eve of 2006 Cipollino was with my son Nicholas at a village party: he was wearing a card board box on his face and he would greet everybody saying in Italian: "I am Cipollino, Happy New Year to you!" †


Together with his family, Pietro, Nella, Gianni, Silvia, Luciana we would like to thank Dr. Giulia Gagliardi of Bambino Gesu', his cardiologist. She was like a mother to him, in fact while waiting to find a place where Ngoc Anh could live for eight months awaiting his third surgery, Dr. Gagliardi invited him to stay at her house for a week, and Ngoc Anh became best friends with Federico, her son.


We are also very grateful to Dr. Roberto Di Donato, he was like a father to him. Also, Dr. Di Donato, the cardio-surgeon, overcoming all professional reservations, took on himself the hard duty to try to extend the life of Ngoc Anh, dimed to be very short -a matter of a few weeks - if no intervention was attempted. After surgery, when it became more and more clear to him that Ngoc Anh was getting weaker and weaker, and could not survive despite the technically corrected surgery on the heart valve, he spent endless hours consoling, encouraging and comforting us all with a human and professional dignity rarely encountered before. †


We would like to thank the staff of Bambino Gesu', the principal of his school, Maria Vittoria Stucchi, his teacher, Carla Meroni, at Instituto Scolastico Comprensivo di Ronco Briantino, Fernando, Dr. Ratti, all Operatori at Rosa Verde, his Vietnamese friends in Rome, Air France that funded his ticket, the Vietnamese Embassy in Rome, the Italian Embassy in Hanoi and so many friends for all their caring assistance and deep involvement, which went far beyond what anyone could have wished for. I know that Ngoc Anh touched the lives of so many people in a special way: his sweetness and wit were irresistible. †


Before entering the surgery room at 8am on September 5th, two big tears marked Ngoc Anh's face. This image of him, a beautiful and brave young man, will stay with Pietro and me forever. †


The Spiral Foundation is now committed to finding a meaningful way to honor the memory of Ngoc Anh by funding a program in his name that will help other children in great need. †


Marichia Simcik Arese


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