Amanda Schumacher has dedicated time and effort contacting many major hospitals and universities in her hometown, and launched charity campaigns to fundraise for the surgery of a Vietnamese man.

She is the Founder of The Tree of Life Foundation International headquartered in Palm Beach, Florida, and the man is Nguyen Duy Hai, whose 198 Lbs tumor was removed from his right leg at the Ho Chi Minh City-based FV Hospital in early January 2012.

If you visit the Foundation at www.treeoflifefi.org, the column “Help Hai” appears in a key position on the interface. When you click it on, you see an introductory letter written by Amanda, detailing Hai’s story. When asked why, she simply says: “Our goal is to help individuals like Hai, with dedication and passion.”

Dedicated knocking on all doors

Amanda found out of Hai’s health condition through Cindy, his biological sister, who is an employee at a Vietnamese-owned beauty salon in Florida, in 2009. Feeling special compassion towards the poor man, she decided to raise funds for him, although she had only talked with him via Skype once before.

The Tree of Life Foundation has been helping Hai since 2009. They have raised funds for him a few times and sent his family money for medications. Amanda also gave Hai a laptop for entertainment.
After a period of time, she realized that it could not be a permanent solution for Hai, so she tried to bring him to the US for surgery.

In July, 2009, she contacted Dr. Bruce Perler, Director of Surgery Vascular – John Hopkins Hospital, to search for support for Hai’s transportation to the US. One month later, she contacted Oprah’s Foundation, founded by world-renowned host Oprah Winfrey, seeking financial support both to bring Hai to the US and for his surgery, but again, she did not succeed.

Disappointed, but not discouraged, in February 2010, Amanda contacted the office of Florida Senator George LeMieux. At the same time, she emailed the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City to suggest bringing Hai to the US for tests, exams, and pre-surgical evaluation with an expected length of stay between 6-12 months.
She tried all manner of ways to bring him to the US and make his surgery a reality but his visa was denied.

“Golden” hearts

Despite this difficulty, her heart was never betrayed by God. In February, 2011, Christine Do (Owner of the Salon where Cindy works) was the one that persisted in finding a way to help Hai. She was watching the Discovery channel when she saw Dr. McKay McKinnon performing a high risk surgery. “She contacted my office and we contacted him immediately. As soon as Dr. McKinnon saw Hai’s photos he knew what the problem was and said he could help him,” Amanda recalled.

Dr. McKinnon visited her office few weeks later, to see and speak with Hai directly via Skype for the first time. “After seeing Hai, Dr. McKinnon was 100% committed to helping him,” Amanda continued. Amanda said that many US Citizens were very generous and really helped with his cause, as did the Vietnamese community.

On May 19, 2011, Amanda hosted a luncheon at her residence for friends and long time supporters of the Foundation. All proceeds went directly towards funds for Hai’s surgery. “Through the luncheon, we hope to raise funds and awareness in order to change, and possibly save, Hai’s life,” said Amanda.

Afterwards, the Tree of Life Foundation International, along with Morning Star Entertainment, paid for Dr. McKinnon and his team’s trip to Vietnam on November 16, 2011.

In November 2011, Amanda and her daughter came to visit Hai in Vietnam for 3 days when he was at the HCMC-based Oncology Hospital. A plan was being made to operate on Hai on November 18, but the hospital could not proceed.

Amanda told Tuoitrenews that her feeling was to persevere until Hai’s surgery was done: “I knew in my heart that one way or another Hai would get his operation. I have never given up on hope for Hai.”

Amanda, having been connected to Sam back in June 2011, continued her efforts with others to help Hai, although the surgery could not proceed at HCMC Oncology Tumor Hospital in November 2011 as planned. By then, Sam asked Dr Nguyen Truong Son to help. Dr Son is the director of HCMC Cho Ray Hospital who gladly accepted to work with Dr McKinnon to save Hai at his hospital, free of charge.

At the same time, Robin King Austin of Vina Capital Foundation contacted Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon, CEO of FV Hospital, who also accepted to help Hai. It was a frantic door knocking and hospital chasing to help Hai, as the team realized that Dr McKinnon was the last chance for Hai to get his life-saving surgery.

January 2012, Dr McKinnon came back and performed a 3-day marathon surgeries on Nguyen Duy Hai, Thach Thi Sa Ly and Kieu Thi My Dung. The latter two patients were also dreadful tumor cases that Sam had asked Dr McKinnon to add to his first-time ever Vietnam caseloads miraculously accomplished in January 2012.

Tree of Life Foundation International paid a $4,000 bill for the total costs of $12,000 required by FV for Hai’s surgery while the rest was covered by local and international donations.

As we know, the FV hospital heard the sounds of thunderous and turbulent applause when Dr. McKinnon and his assistants successfully removed the massive tumor from Hai on January 5, 2012. Millions of people all around the world were excited by this miracle. Amanda was the one among them. “I’m so happy and excited to have heard that Hai has a new life. Perhaps, it is our biggest achievements so far. It’s God’s miracle,” Amanda revealed. Amanda made sure that her foundation would fund Hai’s trip to the US when he is willing to travel and sponsor him a prosthetic leg.

We are very proud to announce Hai’s Hope Dream came True Hai Nguyen is finally on his way to a new Life.

Dr. McKay McKinnon successfully removed the 198 pound tumor from Hai Nguyen. The 12 hour surgery with a team of 60 doctors, nurses and medical technicians at FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. The hospital said at a press briefing the following day that it was a “groundbreaking” surgery that began at 8:55 a.m. and ended at 9:03 p.m. Hai received seven liters of blood transfusion during the surgery. Notably, doctors had told Hai and his family that the chance for successful surgery was just 50 percent and they agreed to go ahead, with a fatalistic patient telling his mother, “If I die, that is my fate.”

Chicago based renowned plastic surgeon McKay McKinnon believes that recurrence is not a possibility after successfully removing it on January 5. “Of course it was a very difficult procedure but it went according to plan and I do not think there is a significant risk of recurrence,” he said Tuesday (January 10). “The main reason is that the surgery was radical and removed the origin of the tumor. This was the key to success,” he said.

Dr. McKinnon, who visited the Tree of Life Foundation International nearly a year ago, to discuss details of the surgery, conducted the surgery for free, Dr. McKinnon has been hailed a “fairy” and one having “supernatural power” on many forums for his kindness and talent. Hai, who is recovering well at the FV Hospital, said Dr. McKinnon was like his “second father” who’d given him a new life.

“I will be grateful to him and all the ones that made this happen my whole life for doing the operation to help me,” he told the media on January 7. Vietnamese doctors had earlier scheduled and cancelled a surgery saying it would put his life at risk. Dr. Jean_Marcel Guillon, FV Hospital’s General Director, said he was impressed by the success of the “landmark” surgery and the medical care given. Hai regained consciousness at approximately 2 p.m. on
January 6, around 17 hours after the surgery and asked to see his mother.

Quote from Hai “I was told I woke up close to two days after the surgery. My eyes barely opened, I touched where the tumor was supposed to be. An indescribable sensation hit me, knowing that it’s gone. I said to myself from today on, I really start to live.”

Tree of Life Foundation International has been helping Hai since 2009. Now we are looking forward to helping Hai come to the US for his prosthetic leg.


After Hai’s surgery