A well-known millionaire in the United States, she 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.
Her name is Amanda Schumacher, founder of The Tree of Life Foundation International headquartered in Florida, and the man is Nguyen Duy Hai, whose 82kg 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 learned 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 – but she failed. 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 is a reality but his visa was denied.
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. 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 2010, continued her infatigable 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 VinaCapital 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 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.
Ms. Amanda Schumacher
Haiti little girl’s eyes
Amanda is a religious woman. She said when her first daughter was born, God opened her heart to help the community and inspired her to begin the Tree of Life. She reads Bible daily.
She always believes that most Americans have a heart to help others. “There is a resurgence of people reaching out to help those less fortunate in our weakened economy. I always believed you need to give back to this world. When you give, they give back,” she said.
Over the years, she has connected many individuals, organizations, and even governments worldwide with unlucky people who really need a helping hand.
Amanda Schumacher’s family has been in private business for approximately 50 years in South Florida. Her Family Foundation (The Schumacher Family Foundation) supports 100% the Tree of Life Foundation International, paying for all administrative costs and donations.
Tree of Life Foundation International has many tasks. They have been working in Haiti for many years. The foundation has also traveled to Africa to help women and children who have been sexually abused, and to Brazil to help sick children and orphanages.
The foundation has many achievements in the local community. The Tree of Life Center helps men and women restore their lives from drugs and alcohol.
“Every accomplishment that we have, big or small means the same to me as long I am seeing transformation,” she said.
She told Tuoitrenews that during her time doing charitable activities, she has never forgotten the eyes of little Haitian girl.
“On one of my trips to Haiti, a little girl was really sick. I held her in my arms and fed her. After she slept, and when I came back the next morning to see how she was doing, she had passed away. I will never forget her eyes,” Amanda confided.