Nguyen Van Ha

For Nguyen Van Ha, as with so many Vietnamese of his generation, war has been an inescapable, looming shadow. Born during the Vietnam War, Ha would later serve as a soldier in the Cambodian-Vietnamese War and to this day carries the tragic memory of that service everywhere. During a march at nightfall in 1983, Ha stepped on a landmine, the detonation of which tore off his right leg. Decades later, Ha would be one of Penta’s first patients. Shortly after he was discharged from the Vietnamese military due to his injury, Ha moved to Ho Chi Minh City, where he has lived with his family for over 30 years.

“As a veteran, I was eligible for the state’s prosthetic care program. Nonetheless, my journey to regain mobility has been long and far from straightforward. The difficulty is walking.”

For several decades, Ha was forced to use an old, heavy wooden prosthesis that was ill-suited to the wet conditions present during the long rainy season in Vietnam. It was particularly inconvenient for work, causing him great trouble moving around for his job as a security guard at a Buddhist pagoda. Ha often had to drag the limb, a repeated motion that caused both back pain and damage to the prosthesis. His lack of mobility also prevented him from fulfilling his lifelong desire to travel and see the world.

When Penta began working in Vietnam, Ha was one of the first patients referred to us. Through our work with a local orthopedic hospital, he was fitted with a waterproof lower-limb device that was half the weight of his previous prosthesis.

“It’s lighter and better than the old device,” Ha said. “It doesn’t hurt. It is light, so it doesn’t interfere with my back problems.” He also praised its durability and stability. With the new device, Ha can climb the stairs of the pagoda and has resumed his job with vigor.

When we last spoke with Ha, he delighted our team with stories about his travels around Southeast Asia. Since being fitted, Ha has visited Indonesia, Malaysia, and Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam. We were most surprised and thrilled to hear that while on a scenic boat tour of the Bay, Ha even jumped into the sea, fully clothed and with his waterproof leg, to save a young girl who had fallen overboard!

As a veteran who has lived most of his life with a lower-limb amputation, Ha said he never thought he would ever be able to travel, let alone save someone from drowning, but with his new, trusty, lightweight prosthesis, he is living life to its fullest.

Skip to content