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Vietnamese Refugee Dies Despite Transplant from Brother

May 31, 1985

MAYWOOD, Ill. (AP) _ A Vietnamese refugee whose brother flew from Ho Chi Minh City to help him with a bone marrow transplant has died 17 days after the act made possible by unprecedented cooperation between the United States and Vietnam.

Vo Tien Duc, 32, died Thursday at Loyola University Medical Center, hospital officials said.

The transplant was performed May 13 to fight Duc’s aplastic anemia, but his condition worsened May 21 and he slipped into a coma late last week, said Loyola spokesman Rick Romano.

At the time of the transplant, doctors said Duc was suffering from a number of severe complications, including pulmonary infection and gastrointestinal bleeding, and Romano said those complications apparently proved fatal.

The complications, combined with Duc’s age and the many blood transfusions he had received, cut his chances for survival after the transplant to only 30 percent or 40 percent, physicians had said.

Vo Hoang Van, the 18-year-old brother who donated the bone marrow for Duc’s transplant, was staying with Duc’s wife, Phung Lang, at the time of his brother’s death.

Hua Truong, a friend of Duc’s who helped finance the brother’s visit to the United States, left his place of employment when informed of Duc’s death, and had not arrived at his home by Thursday evening.

In a rare instance of cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, which do not have diplomatic relations, Van was granted a temporary exit visa and flown to Chicago on April 26 from his home in the Mekong Delta.

The transplant was delayed for several weeks because of Duc’s poor condition and the need to make extended compatibility tests on the brothers’ tissues.

Dr. Richard Fisher, chief of hematology-oncology at Loyola, called the operation a ″technical success″ immediately after the transplant, but warned it could take as long as four weeks before doctors would be able to determine whether Duc’s body was rejecting Van’s cells.

Fisher said 11/4 pints of marrow was withdrawn from a large bone in Van’s pelvic area and then injected into Duc’s circulatory system.

If all had gone well, the marrow cells would have taken root in Duc’s bones and begun producing the blood cells his body needed to fight off various infections.

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