Posts filed under ‘Trip Reports’

Vietnam Surgical Mission Trip Report




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.


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

VN Trip Report- Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Surgical Volunteers International has completed their fourth surgical mission to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We were invited to the hospital by DR Doan Dao the director of the hospital burn unit and Dr Nguyen Son the hospital director. The volunteers came from all over the US but we also had two from India.

CRH is a 2,800-bed referral hospital and serves patients from all the provinceŐs in South Vietnam and also receives some patients from Cambodia as well. The burn center is the only unit in the South of Vietnam and is extremely busy. They always have a full unit with upwards of 70 burn patients.

We arrived at the on Saturday June 22, 2013. 80 patients waiting to be screened for surgery greeted us. All the patients were past patients at the center and had debilitating contractures. After all the patients were screened we identified 33 of the patients that we felt could most benefit for a surgical procedure. I have a list of about 20 patients that we would like to do on our next trip.

On Sunday most of the team went on a tour of the Mekong Delta region. They departed at 8 AM and returned at 5 PM. The trip not only provided a tour of the countryside it allows the volunteers to get out of the hustle and bustle of HCM.

Surgery began early on Monday morning and proceeded until early Friday afternoon. We were able to provide surgical treatment to 33 patients. Lots of Full thickness skin grafts. All the patients did well.

During the week I was invited to visit a hospital in Bien Hoa Province. They are going to open a burn center there and will be sending nurses and doctors to Cho Ray Hospital for training. They have requested that SVI brings a team there next year.

At the end of the mission I took a bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was met by DR Sin Moth the Deputy Director of Cho Ray Phnom Penh Hospital. The hospital is a joint project between the Cambodian and Vietnamese government. It is scheduled to open in September 2013. SVI is exploring how we would best be able to assist them once they are open.

For the remainder of this year we have a Health Fair clinic scheduled in St Vincents, and clefts missions to Haiti and Brazil. I will be adding missions for 2014 as soon as dates and locations are set.

August 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Cho Ray Hospital, Burn Unit 2012

Surgical Volunteers International has completed its third trip to the Burn Center in Cho Ray Hospital. The team arrived in Ho Chi Minh City for patient screening on March 31st. As always we stayed at the Bat Dat Hotel which is about 15
minutes walk from the hospital.

The team consisted of 12 volunteers with 2 surgeons, 2 anesthiologists, 1 CRNA, 1 medical student, and 6 registered nurses. Everyone was from the US except for one surgeon who joined us from Egypt.

Cho Ray Hospital is the largest hospital in the South of Vietnam. It has 1700 beds and 2800 patients. The burn center had 112 patients the week were there. Some rooms had up to 10 patients with stretchers parked right next to each other.

Thirty-nine of the patients had been admitted for surgery by the SVI team and the rest were recovering from recent burns. In spite of the crowded conditions the patients all were receiving excellent care from the Vietnamesestaff. Daily baths and dressing changes were the norm. The unit is clean and tidy.

Due to a Vietnamese National holiday on Monday we did not begin operating until Tuesday. Even with the shortened week we were able to provide surgery for every candidate we screened on Saturday.

A total of 39 received life changing surgery during the week. Many patients had severe burn scar contractures of the hand that made it impossible to perform even the simplest of tasks. We also did several neck and axillary contractures.

One patient had burn scars that had left his legs in a sitting position. Hopefully he will now be able to walk.

I would like to once again thank our hosts and the Volunteers. The week was one of hard work,excellent care and compassion for those suffering from debilitating contractures.

April 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm Leave a comment


January 2020
« Jan    

Posts by Month

Posts by Category