Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Q&A with Wing Ip, DPM

This year's mission to Vietnam was Dr. Wing Ip's second with International Extremity Project. As a returning member of the medical team, she had valuable experience from her the 2013 mission. (On a project like this, "valuable experience" translates to "more responsibility.") In addition to evaluating patients for surgery, performing surgeries, and following up with post-surgical patients, she managed the daily surgical schedule and helped to mentor the surgical residents on the team.

Drs. Spanko and Ip work in surgery with
one of the Can Tho Central General
Hospital's orthopedic team members.

Why is participating in a mission like this important to you? People have different ways of giving back to the community, either locally or globally. Some people donate to charities. Others donate their time through volunteerism. But for me, I want to give back by sharing the skills that I have obtained through residency and medical school.

IEP is especially important to me as we all have to work as a team regardless of our roles. No amount of hubris can treat our patients, who have extremely complicated deformities. If anything, this mission demands humility as we need to understand our patients needs in order to provide them with the best care.

How has participating in missions with IEP affected your life/world view?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 9: 5th Day of Surgeries in Can Tho

complete tibial agenesisThe biggest case of the day was also one of the biggest cases of the mission. The kids are always important because the earlier the medical team can treat their deformities, the more chances they have to be independent, go to school, and grow up with fewer physical challenges to face along the way.

This little girl had complete tibial agenesis, a major deformity of her right knee and ankle joints. She hopped everywhere instead of walking. She is bright, cheerful, and was hoping for a solution that would let her go to school. When she tried, the school sent her home because her deformity was considered a distraction to the other children and too much for the school to manage.

The word amputation is jarring, but this was the solution for this little girl. Dr. Nyska explained that this would bring her to normal. She had no tibia or patella, only a fibula, and her foot was essentially completely upside down from the ankle. Because of the missing bones, it wasn't possible to repair what was there. Instead, they needed to remove her lower leg to allow her to use a prosthesis.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 8: Fourth Day of Surgeries in Can Tho

In 2010, this young man was in a wheelchair
and needed his parents' assistance for nearly
everything. Today, he not only walks -- he runs.
Monday morning brought us back to Can Tho Central General hospital and our patients. It's amazing how quickly the days at the hospital become routine and comfortable despite how different everything is from our lives at home. 

As we start the second week in the operating rooms, our medical team and the local teams have worked with one another in the surgeries, the support teams have figured out their roles, and things run very smoothly. In the second week, our daily surgical cases also increase in number. Instead of six patients a day, we may see seven or eight.

A big bonus of this week is that we have visitors. On Monday, three previous patients came back to Can Tho Central General Hospital to visit and thank the medical team. It's humbling and satisfying to see how patients have responded to the surgery and, in many cases, hear their stories about how IEP's work has changed their lives. More specifics and stories about our return patients in future posts. So much happens that it's hard to keep up with posting (especially with the lack of wireless at the hospital).