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Voices of Japan Heart Vol.1 Dr. Yav Phoan

We are a group of 100+ Cambodian and Japanese medical/non-medical professionals.

On this page, we will introduce you to each one of our staff and their voice.

Dr.Phoan has been working at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center for 3 and a half years.

He first got in touch with Japan Heart as a scholarship program student, and has grown into a core member of our team. Here’s his voice on work and future vision.

Q How did you get to know about Japan Heart?


I’m from a rural area called Prey Veng province in the southeastern part of Cambodia. I grew up in a poor family. Ever since I was a child, I always imagined myself working in the medical field, but I knew that my family wouldn’t be able to send me to university. We simply couldn’t afford it.

However, when I was in high school, the teachers introduced me to the scholarship program that Japan Heart runs for Cambodian students.  

(Japan Heart has a scholarship program called “Dream Bridge Scholarship Program” that provides support to students who have a strong ambition to become doctors and nurses until they graduate from university).

There were a lot of applicants for the program, so I was really happy when I found out that I was selected as the scholarship student. If I didn’t get introduced to Japan Heart at that time, I would have never been able to become a doctor. I wouldn’t be able to be here today.

Q Why did you want to become a doctor?


I have an older sister and she already had a child when I was still a child myself. A little boy, a nephew to me, but when I was about 15 years old, my nephew died of an illness.

At the time, I didn’t understand the reason behind his death, I had no idea what kind of illness that was. His condition deteriorated quickly, he passed away only a few months after finding out that he was ill.

“Why did he have to die?” “Why did he have to die?”

I kept thinking about his death for a long time.

This experience made me start thinking about a career in the medical field. I wanted to help children who were suffering from illnesses like my nephew. At the time, I didn’t even know the difference between a doctor and a nurse, but was determined to work in the medical field.

Q How is your work at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center?


It’s been about 3 and a half years since I started working at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center in Oudong. I came here right after graduating from university. It might sound a little odd but when I first came here, I felt “empty”. It’s because I knew a lot of theory from studying, but had no practice as a doctor.

However, ever since I came here, my time has been full of new experiences and great opportunities. There have been moments when I feel that I am making a change to patients’ lives, and that is extremely rewarding.

I particularly value my time working with Japanese doctors, it’s a great learning opportunity. Dr. Kojiro, the director of the hospital, and Dr. Kakazu, the director of the pediatrics department, always try to pass on all their knowledge and experience to us. Whenever there’s something I don’t understand, they always help me and explain not only the theory but also the “why we take this approach” part. I really appreciate the way they teach us.

Q Could you tell us about your future vision?


I was originally interested in pediatrics, but after coming to Japan Heart Children's Medical Center, I’m starting to grow interests particularly in the fields of pediatric surgery and pediatric oncology.

I’ve had a lot of experience in the operating room. Pediatric cancer surgeries are tough and difficult, but working alongside the experienced surgeons coming from Japan such as Dr. Yoshioka, Dr. Matsunaga, and Dr. Nakahara, I look up to them and want to be like them one day.


Q. What motivates you to work with us?


Japan Heart is the only hospital in Cambodia that treats pediatric solid tumors comprehensively free of charge. A lot of patients come to us because they cannot afford to pay their medical expenses.

However, the number of patients who come to us is still limited. There must be many children with cancer in this country who have to give up on receiving treatment because they can't afford it. We don't know how many patients there might be, nor how many children are dying without access to medical care.

Childhood cancer is a difficult disease. There are times when we know there’s nothing we can do even before starting the treatment. Sometimes we know that the patient is not going to live long, no matter how hard we try. It breaks my heart.

Some patients have tumors on their legs so they cannot walk, some cannot breathe because of mediastinal tumor, some cannot chew food because of mandibular or oral mass. At the same time, other children of the same age walk and run freely, breathe without any problem, and enjoy food as much as they want. Their symptoms vary and it hurts me to see such little children go through so much pain. As a doctor, I want to dedicate myself to save as many lives as possible.

I come from a poor family myself, so I sympathize with the philosophy of Japan Heart, “delivering medical care to those who do not have access to medical care”. I want to continue working to save the people of my country, Cambodia.

Dr. Yav Phoan

From Prey Veng province, Cambodia. After graduating from university as a scholarship student of Japan Heart’s scholarship program, Dr.Phoan has been working as a doctor at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center since November 2019.

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