HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese soldier who was shot by U.S. troops in 1968 and has lived with a bullet lodged in his heart for nearly four decades underwent surgery and the slug was successfully removed, doctors said Monday.
Le Dinh Hung, 60, underwent surgery on Friday and is recovering quickly, said Dr. Nguyen Sinh Hien, who spent three hours operating on Hung at Hanoi Heart Hospital.
“It is the strangest case that I have ever seen,” Hien said. “Normally a person with a bullet in his heart would die immediately if they didn’t have surgery right away.”
Hung said the surgery had eased the chest pain he had suffered since the 1968 Vietnam War battle, in Quang Tri province near the former Demilitarized Zone that separated North and South Vietnam.
“I was very lucky to survive,” he said from his hospital bed. “People believe in their fate and I do too.”
One year after Hung was shot, doctors tried unsuccessfully to remove the bullet, which was just over an inch long.
Hien said the bullet went through Hung’s stomach, damaged his cardiac valve and came to rest at the back of his heart.
Doctors, who replaced Hung’s damaged valve with an artificial one, said he would be hospitalized for several more days.