Volunteers from the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS)®, traveled to Vietnam to provide corrective surgery to underserved children and adults with lower extremity deformities and share advanced surgical techniques with Vietnamese doctors. Since the first Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam in 2002, foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons have performed nearly 1,500 surgeries and evaluated more than 3,500 patients in clinics.
This year’s volunteer group, comprised of eight foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons from four different countries, worked at the Viet Duc Hospital and the Institute for Rehab and Orthopedics in Hanoi, as well as clinics in Dien Bien Phu, Ba Vi, and Quang Ninh. Over the course of four weeks, the volunteers evaluated a total of 278 patients and performed surgery on 90, at no cost to the patients.
“This program is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your experiences not only in medicine and orthopaedic surgery, but in solving problems,” said volunteer foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon Sandra A. Eisele, MD, MBA, of Cincinnati, Ohio. “We surely did not have the equipment we are accustomed to in the operating room, so we needed to be creative. Experiencing healthcare delivery in a completely different culture is well worth the time and effort to participate.”
Scope of Volunteer Work: The Foundation surgeons each spent one week working side-by-side with Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons, treating children, adolescents, and adults with untreated congenital deformities. The surgeons used basic techniques and instruments to perform surgeries since many resources used to correct foot and ankle deformities in the United States and other developed countries are not available in Vietnam.
Raman K. Dega, MBBS, of Wexham, United Kingdom, and Kathleen A. McHale, MD, of Alexandria, Virginia, were volunteers the last week of the four-week project. The two orthopaedic surgeons managed to perform 22 operations within three days and saw 70 outpatients. Dr. Dega stated, “I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and found it very fulfilling. There was a great opportunity to teach the local doctors, as well as interact with them.”
In addition to Drs. Dega, Eisele, and McHale, Foundation volunteers included Mario Kuhn Adames, MD, Florianopolis, Brazil; Nathan Bruck, MD, Givatayim, Israel; Jessica A. Faught, MD, MS, Portland, Maine; Justin M. Kane, MD, Dallas; Naomi N. Shields, MD, Wichita, Kan.
Surgeons volunteered their time and paid for their travel expenses to Vietnam. In-country expenses were covered by the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation, supported in part by a grant from Stryker. The Society’s partner organization, Mobility Outreach International (MOI), provided on-site assistance to volunteers in Vietnam. The annual project is open to Active, Candidate, and International AOFAS members.