Within hours of arriving in the USA to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Haesung Won, a South Korean student, collapsed with a brain hemorrhage which could easily have cost her her life had it not been for immediate, effective surgery.
Haesung passed out in the bathroom in her dorm and was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital’s emergency room. There, Dr. Thapar. one of the most highly regarded neurosurgeons in the Wisconsin area, was called in to care for her. Scans revealed a large, life-threatening blood clot resulting from a malformation – an abnormal collection of blood vessels – in the brain.
Dr. Thapar quickly determined that emergency surgery was Haesung’s only hope. In a four-hour operation, he removed the blood clot and corrected the tangled blood vessels. The swelling had resulted in part of the left lobe being pushed into the right lobe. It had also squeezed the brain stem which Dr. Thapar describes as “one of the most delicate structures in the universe.”
Haesung survived the surgery but remained in a coma for 33 days. When she finally came out of the coma she found her mother and father by her side. They had flown over from South Korea as soon as they received the news of their daughter’s plight. Two months after coming out of the coma, daily therapy was helping her regain her ability to speak and rebuild her strength so she could walk.
Even before her parents arrived from South Korea, Haesung received much support from a local community who did not even know her.
“People can make a difference,” said Dr. Thapar. “In this hospital, in this small town, we worked as ambassadors of good will. You can change the world in a profound way. And it doesn’t take tools or special skills, just a will and goodness.” Of course in this case all the will and goodness in the world would not have saved Haesung’s life had it not also been for the neurosurgeon’s tools and special skills.
But it was the love of her parents and the warm and generous support of the local community who rallied around, which reinforced the extraordinary skill and the profound care of the neurosurgeon and helped him save Haesung’s life and put her on the road to full recovery.
Below is a photo of Jolene D’Huyvetter visiting Haesung in Korea.