Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Joseph Nguyen, the son of immigrants from Vietnam whose family was a friend of the cardinal was in a coma for 32 days in 2009. At a certain point doctors even filled out his death certificate. The doctors said that Joseph was dead. His heart rate had fallen to beyond any possible recovery, and and all brain activity was gone. But while they wrote his death certificate, Joseph's parents were asking an old family friend for help: a Vietnamese cardinal who is being considered for beatification. Since then Joseph has recovered and returned to the seminary, and has also taken note of his death certificate. He has only two memories of the coma of 32 days, of which he remembers as a "great night's sleep."
In the weeks when he was hovering between life and death, Joseph said he twice encountered Cardinal Van Thuan, who died in 2007. The cardinal was cited in Benedict XVI's encyclical "Spe Salvi" for his exemplary Christian witness in 13 years of prison, and in October of this year his cause of beatification began. Joseph's parents were friends of "Father Van Thuan”, who never met Joseph, because his family emigrated to America in 1975, where he was born. For his parents, "father" Van Thuan was practically a family member. In 2009 Joseph who was doing voluntary work in a hospital, became ill, with normal flu like symptoms. But his condition grew steadily worse, and he asked to leave the seminary for treatment at home. On October 1, he had a serious crisis: he could not breathe. His father took him to hospital, where he was admitted, and operated with a tracheotomy because he was no longer able to breathe. He has no memory of this or anything else from that period.
When he awoke 32 days later, he was told that he was suffering from severe pneumonia, complicated with H1N1, so-called "swine flu". But Joseph told his story when he could speak again. "During my coma, there are only two things I remember: two visions of Cardinal Van Thuan. He appeared to me twice. " Joseph said that not only did he see the cardinal but he also spoke to him, in two phases which he describes as "separation of body and soul." Although it is not able to reveal details of the encounter, he says that they probably occurred while the doctors were looking at his loss of brain activity and the disappearance of vital signs. "Shortly after the second visit from the Cardinal I awoke from a coma". He says he did not understand what was happening, and why of all those tubes and wires were attached to his body, and in particular the tube in his neck, which prevented him from speaking. When others heard of his story, and the possible involvement of Cardinal Van Thuan in his healing, he was asked to provide all information to officials who are following his beatification in Rome.