Phin Ken, and his daughter, Socheat Nha during the the Cambodian New Year Parade in Long Beach, Calif. on April 4, 2010. (Jeff Gritchen / Press-Telegram)
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
LONG BEACH - Socheat Nha and Davik Teng, two Cambodian girls given second chances at normal lives, will be saying their "arkun charans," or "thank you" to residents tonight at Sophy's Restaurant.
Residents will get a chance to see the two girls who underwent successful heart surgeries at one last fundraising dinner.
Although the girls don't depart for Cambodia until Oct.18, this is the last time they will attend public functions.
Socheat, the 3-year-old daughter of a Cambodian farmer, was brought to the U.S. by Long Beach nonprofit Hearts Without Boundaries for surgery not available in her home country.
Las Vegas Childrens Hospital, which had agreed to perform the procedure, backed out when it appeared too risky. However, Hearts Without Boundaries was able to broker a deal with the International Children's Heart Foundation, which performed the surgery in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Rodrigo Soto performed a tricky four-hour procedure to close a hole in Socheat's heart. The defect, called a ventricular septal defect, was repaired along with part of an artery.
Davik was the first child saved by Hearts Without Boundaries. Dr. Vaughn Starnes at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles repaired a quarter-sized hole in her heart two years ago.
Davik returned to Cambodia but is back in the U.S. for a visit supported by Hearts Without Boundaries.
A fourth patient, Bunlak Song, is scheduled to come to Long Beach later this year.
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