Friday, June 14, 2024
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Home » Facing the World’s Programme Transforms Lives in Viet Nam

Facing the World’s Programme Transforms Lives in Viet Nam

by Kalani Malaythong
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An initiative by the UK-based charity Facing the World is giving new hope to patients with severe facial deformities in Viet Nam. 

The organisation is facilitating partnerships between British surgeons and local Vietnamese doctors to share expertise and transform the lives of patients in need.

“Our opportunity to cooperate with experts from the UK has opened many new things to serve our patients better and better,” said Dr. Đào Văn Giang of Việt Đức University Hospital’s maxillofacial department.

“They have helped us in professional fields like diagnosis, and ways to treat problems in operations.”

Continuing their commitment to the country, the project is just the latest by Facing the World and CEO Katrin Kandel, who have previously helped bring world-leading surgeons to Viet Nam to perform complex surgeries on children. 

This time, the visiting surgeons are training their Vietnamese counterparts on the latest techniques and approaches for complex maxillofacial cases.

“It’s important that as surgeons we make sure that we train the next generation of surgeons. If I don’t teach, and if my colleagues don’t teach…there’s no one to take over from us. So information has to be cascaded down from generation to generation,” said Michael Perry, a consultant maxillofacial surgeon from Northwick Park Hospital in London who is working with the programme.

Michael Perry, a consultant maxillofacial surgeon, is working with the programme to enhance local surgical techniques. VNS Photo Minh Phương

In return, the British surgeons are also taking home some new experiences. “No surgeon knows everything. There’s things where I have little areas of expertise and areas I have no expertise. And by meeting other surgeons, I learn from them, and hopefully they learn from me,” Perry said.

Together, they have worked on highly complex surgeries, fixing serious facial trauma for patients like 20-year-old Nguyen Tien Phong.

“Before the operation, my left eye was in a hollow position, which resulted in double-blurred images. My forehead is also hollow. I had an accident and got my forehead bone, my cheekbones, and my eye socket broken,” said Phong. 

“I think I’m very lucky to have such a successful operation. It opens a new page in my life. I’m more confident in communicating with others.”  

His mother Lê Thị Phương also expressed relief at her son finally receiving the care he needed. “My son was unlucky to have an accident. He fell and had half of his face broken. He underwent two operations but they all failed. Here, Doctor Giang did the surgery and put his eye back to the original place.”

Through these collaborative efforts, more patients like 12-year-old Nguyễn Việt Kim Ngân are getting a second chance at life.

“I had half of my face swollen. I had no difficulties in daily life but I did not have enough confidence. I used to wear a mask everywhere except my home,” said Ngan. “After the operation, my face looks better than before. I feel happy and self-confident.”

Her mother Nguyễn Thị Thu Hằng added: “Before, my daughter led a quiet life. She was often not confident enough. Now she has a chance to gain back her self-confidence. My family is happy now.”

Without the visiting experts, complex cases could not be treated properly in Việt Nam. “She is lucky to have foreign experts here. Because her disease is complicated, doctors said if the foreign experts come, they can treat it more properly,” said Hằng.

Dr. Dao Van Giang of Viet Duc University Hospital’s maxillofacial department examines 20-year-old Nguyen Tien Phong. VNS Photo Minh Phương

The success of the initiative is thanks in large part to the support of Facing the World and facilitator Katrin Kandel.

Surgeon Michael Perry said: “The initial Vietnamese doctors coming to visit us, and then me, myself, coming out here, has been arranged through a charity called Facing the World, which I’ve worked very closely with a lady called Katrin Kandel.”

As the collaborative project starts wrapping up, the bonds built between British and Vietnamese medical professionals ensure the lifesaving work will carry on. 

“When I go home, I’m going to recommend to my colleagues that we look to send one of our juniors here, one of our trainees here. I’ve learnt a lot. They would definitely learn a lot just by seeing things. That’s part of an educational exchange,” Perry said.

With shared knowledge and practices in place, more patients with facial deformities can look forward to the possibility of a brighter future.

* Additional reporting Minh Phương and Lê Hương


Building local expertise in life-saving techniques

As part of Facing the World’s recent education exchange programme, operations have been carried out at Hà Nội’s Việt Đức, 108 Central Military and Hồng Ngọc hospitals which are partners of the UK-based charity in Việt Nam.

Led by top craniofacial surgeon Professor Mike Perry, the mission lasted for two weeks, integrating foreign and Vietnamese surgeons for multidisciplinary team-building and providing training for local doctors treating children with craniofacial defects.

Voluntary CEO of FTW, Katrin Kandel, said the mission is the second this year and the 33rd since FTW first sent international medics to Việt Nam to join local doctors in 2008. 

Facing the World has facilitated thousands of craniofacial surgeries and dozens of doctor training fellowships in Viet Nam. Over the next five years, it aims to enable 40,000 more operations performed by Vietnamese doctors and send 200 more abroad for training, while donating vital medical and surgical equipment.

Source: Vietnam News

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