Nguyen Duc, who survived after being surgically separated from his conjoined twin brother Viet over two decades ago, and his wife Nguyen Thanh Tuyen were busy taking care of their little twins at the 25th anniversary celebration of the historic separation surgery held in Ho Chi Minh City last Sunday.
The ceremony was attended by about 250 guests including the Vietnamese medical team who cared for the brothers over the years, Japanese friends, and the media.
Addressing the event, Prof. and Dr. Tran Dong A, the head surgeon of the medical team in charge of the Viet-Duc surgery 25 years ago, said: “The Viet-Duc separation operation will be remembered for a long time as the fruit of humanization and true internationalism”.
Among the foreign guests attending the memorable day were Secretary of Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society Len Aldis, who has dedicated himself to seeking justice for the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims over the years, and professor Fujimoto Bunro, chairman of Negaukai charity organization, who raised a fund of JPY2.5 million ($25,673) for the surgery.
“I’m very pleased to join the event today. I met Duc in March 1989 at the Tu Du Hospital and every time I come to Tu Du, I try to visit him. I have watched him grow from a young boy to a grown man. He has become an ambassador for all those disabled by Agent Orange,” Len Aldis said.
Professor Fujimoto said: “I will never forget one old farmer in Fukui prefecture who donated JPY820,000 ($8,421) wrapped in a cloth to your organization without saying his name.”
“I recognized that we old Asian people are full of compassion and always keep the desire to help others alive,” he added.
Japanese singer Ruth Linton, Duc, and Vietnamese singer Nguyen Phi Hung sang “For a Beautiful World,” a song written by Japanese art teacher Toshiaki Uchimoto who was inspired by Duc’s effort to overcome his troubles in life.
Linton told Tuoi Tre News: “Everybody in Japan knows that Duc is married and has twins of his own. Many Japanese recognize Duc as a symbol of Vietnam. But I did not know that there are people in VN who are still affected by Agent Orange today.”
Dioxin book released
On this memorable day, the Negaukai organization announced the release of the book “Dioxin Unforgettable Responsibility: Viet & Duc and World Peace” published by Vietnamese publishing house First News, a product of the anti-dioxin peace movement.
The book is translated into English from Japanese, with papers written by scholars and specialists of the anti-dioxide movement around the world.
“We will donate all the profits gained from this book to efforts to boost worldwide understanding of the tragedy of the dioxin victims,” said Ryotaro Katsura, Prof. of Ritsumeikan University based in Tokyo.
“One such event will be a large peace parade originating at the UN building in NYC, which Duc will be invited to,” Prof. Ryotaro added.
“I’m very honored and proud to embody the clear evidence of a turning point in Vietnamese medical history. I’m grateful to late “grandpa” Duong Quang Trung, the leader of the medical team; Tu Du hospital; Hoa Binh village; the Negaukai organization; the Japanese Red Cross, and the medical team, who all helped saved my life,” Duc declared at the event.
“Also, I could never forget my brother Viet, who gave me most of his organs to save me and help me live a normal life. I told myself that I have to live a good life to honor his sacrifice,” Duc confided.
Now, Duc has a happy family life with his wife Nguyen Thanh Tuyen. The couple have twins, one girl and one boy, whose names are Anh Dao and Phu Si respectively (Fuji and Sakura in Japanese).