After months of painstaking analysis, University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) reported that the DNA lab had completed its analysis of DNA samples taken from the Lang Da camp gravesite. Of the twelve individuals recovered, eleven yielded viable DNA results. We were thrilled to hear the news, because soils in North Vietnam can be acidic, breaking down DNA at an accelerated rate.
Family members still living in Vietnam provided comparative DNA samples. As you can imagine, security of the comparative samples is important to be certain that matching remains will be reunited with the correct families. To this end, with the cooperation of the U. S. Department of State, TRC arranged for family sample collection at the U. S. Consulate in Saigon (HCMC).
First TRC sent sealed DNA collection kits to the Consulate, and notified family members of the time and date for their appointments to provide samples. The families then traveled to Saigon at the appointed time. The Consulate’s Fraud Prevention Manager confirmed identities; but the samples actually were collected by a technician from the International Organization for Migration. The technician sealed and marked the samples separately, and the Fraud Prevention Manager sent the samples by Fed Ex directly to the UNTCHI lab in Texas.
This month TRC’s President Mr. Thanh and TRC’s General Counsel Mr. Coddou met with Art Eisenberg, Co-Director of UNTICHI to discuss current TRC recovery operations. They also discussed future collaboration in Vietnam between Vietnamese American Foundation (VAF…TRC’s parent foundation) and DNA-ProKids (www.dna-prokids.org). After meeting with Dr. Eisenberg, Mr. Thanh and Mr. Coddou met with the UHR team, for a presentation of lab processes and data. They also took a fascinating tour of the lab.
At day’s end, the remains and gravesite relics carefully were loaded into TRC’s van for transport back to Houston, Texas. In Houston, the remains are kept in a Buddhist temple until they can be returned to Vietnam. Now that TRC and its families have experienced the process of DNA collection and analysis, this part of our operations will run smoothly.
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