Vietnam Surgical Mission Trip Report

January 29, 2015 at 1:30 am Leave a comment




The Vietnam experience was just incredible.  I honestly think it is one of the most remarkable experiences I have ever had, and I am so appreciative that I got to go.  Thank you so much again for the opportunity!

The most meaningful part was meeting the Vietnamese patients.  So many of them had terrible problems — many severe neck contractures, fingers that were entirely fused to the palm, many boutonniere and swan neck deformities as well as axillary burn scar contractures.  One lady’s arm was entirely fused to her body.  And yet, they were some of the happiest patients I had ever met.They would literally hug me and our other team members in the mornings when we arrived; they always had big smiles on their faces and were laughing.  One of the first patients we did was a lady with popliteal fossa burn scar contractures that were so bad she couldn’t walk, so one of her family members literally carried her everywhere.  She started crying when she woke up from surgery because she was so overwhelmed that her legs were finally straight after all these years. It was incredibly heart-warming to be a part of this!  I was sad to leave at the end of the week.

Beyond that, from an educational perspective, I had a wonderful experience.  I worked with Dr.Robert Bibi from New York and Dr. Kim Bjorklund, a hand surgeon who will be working atUniversity of Indiana next year.  They were both very intent on teaching, and they were essentially walking me through almost all of the cases.  I really enjoyed the boutonniere corrections and rebalancing the biomechanics of the fingers. All in all, our team operated on 35 patients, 20 of which I was able to help myself.

Finally, I really enjoy experiencing new cultures, and Vietnam was a world away from any place I had been before.  The people were incredibly friendly.  We worked in conjunction with the Cho Ray Hospital staff and surgeons, and the American and Vietnamese teams were teaching each other the opposite language. By the end of the trip, I think I had learned all of the common names of surgical instruments in Vietnamese. It was a collaborative environment, and we were able to benefit from learning from each other while providing high quality patient care.

Thank you so very much for the wonderful opportunity – really, I believe it was one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had, and I am truly grateful for it. I hope to be able to go back one day.


Entry filed under: Trip Reports.

Trip Report | Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, April 5 -12, 2014

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