39 years later, bullet is removed from heart

By Associated Pres
Published April 17, 2007

HANOI, Vietnam - A Vietnamese soldier who was shot by a U.S. soldier in 1968 and has lived since with a bullet lodged in his heart underwent surgery and the slug was successfully removed, doctors said Monday.

Le Dinh Hung, 60, underwent surgery on Friday and is recovering quickly, said Dr. Nguyen Sinh Hien, who spent three hours operating on Hung.

"It is the strangest case that I have ever seen," Hien said. "Normally a person with a bullet in his heart would die immediately if they didn't have surgery right away."

Hung said the surgery had eased the chest pain he had suffered since the 1968 battle.

One year after Hung was shot, doctors tried to remove the bullet, which was just over an inch long.

Hien said the bullet went through Hung's stomach, damaged his cardiac valve and came to rest at the back of his heart.

Hung, who is retired, worked as an administrator at a Hanoi medical school after the war. He fought with the communist North, which defeated the army of the former South Vietnam in 1975.