HOF146: TRUONG, Lam Lieu Kim – TRUONG, Huu Do – TRUONG, Huu Tam

When South Vietnam was invaded in 1975, military physician Truong Huu Do was interned in a succession of re-education camps, while his wife, Lam Lieu Kim, completed her medical studies. Banned from practicing medicine in the city, Lam moved to the rural town of Rach Gia in Kiên Giang Province. Truong joined her upon his release after more than two years in detention. Both witnessed first-hand the poorly resourced and badly managed state of the region’s health facilities, where they worked for little pay. Once Lam became pregnant, the couple realized that their children would have no future in Vietnam because of Truong’s past history. They decided to leave the country.

When the couple arrived in the Malaysian island of Pulau Babi Tengah (Tengah Island), they applied for asylum. It took nearly a year and a half before they were sponsored in Canada by a church group from Calgary, Alberta. By then, they were a family of eight—the doctors with two infant sons, Truong’s school-aged nephews and Lam’s two teenaged sisters. While working in Calgary as a school janitor and then as an interpreter, Truong prepared for a medical equivalency exam. Drawing on the support provided by a group of Vietnamese-born doctors, including a three-month intensive course completed in Montreal, Truong worked hard to qualify as a physician. He obtained his Canadian medical license to practice in 1986, seven years after arriving in Canada, and Lam accomplished the same feat in 1990.