Our Founder

Doctor Pham.

In Loving Memory of Doctor Pham 1969 – 2019

Mai Pham passed away peacefully in her spouse’s arms at home, surrounded by family and close friends, on Friday, August 23, 2019, after a hard-fought and courageous battle against ovarian cancer. Mai Thanh Pham was born in Saigon, Vietnam, on November 16th, 1969, the second child in a family with three sons and two daughters. When she was eleven years old, her family escaped Vietnam by boat, landing on  Pulau Tengah Island, Malaysia in time for Christmas, 1980.  Shortly thereafter, the Phams settled in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mai’s brother Dat, died at age 17 of cardiomyopathy; this tragic event had a far-reaching effect on the world as it drove Mai to become a physician and a surgeon.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Mai pursued her dream with a singular focus and was tenacious in the pursuit of her medical degree (University of  Oklahoma 2000) and her surgical training (General Surgery,  Baylor College of Medicine, 2005; Vascular Surgery Fellowship, University of Texas-Houston, 2007). As a resident and fellow, she met many of her lifelong friends and made a huge impact – completely disproportionate to her stature – on all that she met. Mai moved to Seattle after graduation and spent her entire professional career in the city that became her home. Dr. Pham embraced the practice of vascular surgery – the art and science of vascular disease and lifelong relationships with her patients. Her success was rooted not just in her exceptional technical skills and great clinical judgement, but even more so in her authenticity and genuine love of people. Mai and her spouse, Mai Nguyen, founded their own private practice, Seattle Vascular Surgery, in 2013. Mai’s sense of gratitude for being able to work at what she loved,  with people that she loved, was transformative; she brought joy and unfailing kindness and respect to the workplace, and in doing so, brought light and laughter into the everyday of countless people – her patients, their families, her co-workers and her colleagues.  Mai’s commitments to her profession, her patients, and her family were intertwined. She treated patients as if they were her own family, for long hours and weekends. The success of the practice enabled her to care for the uninsured and underinsured in the Seattle community and to support and provide for her extended family to her heart’s desire. Both at work and at home, Mai’s passion for people, adventure, and joy were palpable and infectious. She was truly the life of every party. Her supernatural energy and irreverent sense of humor cast a bright light wherever she went, and people were naturally drawn to her. She met the love of her life, Mai Nguyen in 2009, and the two traveled the world together and raised two children, Natalie and Nathan. Mai was direct, outspoken, generous and an individualist to her core.  She was fiercely protective of everyone she loved, and an advocate for all humankind, but was proud to stand openly in support of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.

In February 2018, Mai started to experience abdominal distension and was diagnosed with widespread ovarian cancer.  She underwent several operations and undertook multiple courses of chemo and immunotherapy, facing all of these with hope, heart, and unfailing good humor. Her appetite for life and a shared meal – as well as her ability to make all around her laugh to the point of tears – never faltered. She continued to exercise and operate until very recently and was caught on the phone, in the early morning, arranging for a patient’s care, the week before her death. The day before she passed away, she smiled and asked her loved ones, “Aren’t we having a great time?” It was during this period that God became real to Mai. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and He mercifully granted her much peace through her journey. 

Mai lived too briefly for all of us, but her 49 years were filled with moments that took her breath away. The reach of her is immeasurable; we are all made breathless by our loss, and the beauty of her life. 

Mai is survived by her spouse, Mai Nguyen and her two adopted children, Natalie and Nathan, of Seattle; her parents, Kim  Anh Nguyen and Than Pham, of Seattle; her sister, Alison Tran,  of Oklahoma City; her half-sister, Chau Pham of Ho Chi Minh  City, Vietnam; her brother Eric Pham of Dallas; her brother Alex Pham of Oklahoma, numerous nieces and nephews, and hundreds of friends and patients that she regarded as family. 

Seattle Vascular Surgery will pay tribute to Mai’s legacy of generosity through the creation and ongoing support of the M2 (M-squared) Foundation. M2 aspires to serve underdeveloped nations with vital needs, including clean water supply systems, food distribution, housing, and medical care.

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