Monday, October 30, 2017

Countdown to Vietnam: Amy Dhillon

The IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. Over the next few weeks, we'll thoughts from members of the team as they prepare. Today's post is from Amy Dhillon, a third-year podiatry resident. This will be her first mission with the team.

I will be joining IEP this year for my first medical mission overseas. I am truly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to experience this journey with a medical team full of accomplished and experienced surgeons, physicians, nurses, therapists, and technicians.

I am eager and motivated to face the challenging rare congenital deformities more frequently encountered in Vietnam such as clubfoot, polio, and cerebral palsy related lower-extremity deformities. I look forward to being a part of patient care, surgical evaluation, performing complex and life-changing reconstructive surgeries, and following these patients for a short post-operative course during our time in Can Tho, Vietnam.

I grew up in Fresno, California and attended the University of California, Los Angeles where I completed my undergraduate education with a Bachelor’s degree in psychobiology. I pursued my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine in 2011 and graduated with a merit-based scholarship from the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in 2015.

I am currently a third year podiatric surgical resident at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System. Our surgical training focuses on limb salvage, sports medicine, forefoot and rearfoot reconstructive surgery.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Countdown to Vietnam: Devin Fleurdujon

The IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. As we do, we'll post thoughts from team members as they prepare. 

Devin Fleurdujon is joining IEP for her first mission and bringing a new dimension to how we work with and care for patients and their families.

I feel honored to be invited to bring the benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy to the IEP team and to the patients they serve. As a Clinical Ayurvedic Aromatherapist, the opportunity to serve in a way I know will benefit the entire mission excites me. My main focus will be to use aromatherapy as a powerful addition to what IEP offers to:
  • Support the well-being of the team and patients
  • Help to ease their stress, anxiety, pain and mental/emotional exhaustion
  • Support the family through the continued healing benefits of aromatherapy 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Countdown to Vietnam: Bruce Lehnert, DPM

bruce_lehnert_DPMThe IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. Over the next few weeks, we'll post thoughts from team members as they prepare. 

Today's post is from Bruce Lehnert, DPM, co-founder and medical director of International Extremity Project. 

We have less than three months to go. The backbone of our mission is in place, at least in terms of medical licenses, hotels, plane flights, ground transport, and some of our equipment.

We are steadfastly organizing and procuring more donations and equipment.  Our group can get together and make this mission happen again -- with ease.  This time we will have three operating rooms working at the same time, instead of our usual two in Vietnam. Look for great results. I can't wait.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Countdown to Vietnam: Wing Ip, DPM

The IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. Over the next few weeks, we'll post thoughts from team members as they prepare. 

Today's post is from Wing Ip, DPM. This will be her fourth mission with the team.

As IEP’s 2017 Vietnam mission is approaching, I am eager and anxious to see the progress of our previous surgery patients. 

There is one patient from a previous mission who distinctively comes to mind. He was a young man who had neglected clubfoot on both feet. A lot is lost in translation, but I understood that he was the sole provider for his family, and his wife had a mental disability. 

He came to IEP to see if we could improve the quality of his life so that he would be able to work and support his family without his physical impairment.

Despite taking all the precautions for needles and blades in the operating room, accidents can happen. One of the doctors sustained a needle prick during this patient's surgery. Of course, we followed protocol to screen both the doctor and our patient for blood-borne pathogens. To everyone’s dismay, the patient came back positive for HIV. Until this needle prick, the patient didn't know he was HIV positive.

Not only did the patient have to recover from extensive foot and ankle reconstruction, he now has to battle HIV, which could also delay the healing of his surgical wounds.

I am in high hopes that he was able to get his HIV treatment, as there are drugs that can make the virus undetectable, and that he is able to walk and stand further than he did before.

I would like to see him again, knowing that he is doing well.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Countdown to Vietnam: Flecher Fleurdejon

The IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. Over the next few weeks, we'll post thoughts from team members as they prepare. 

Today's post is from Flecher Fleudejon, our amazing video guru and documentarian. Check out his videos from previous missions.

I’m gearing up for my sixth journey over to Vietnam to assist IEP.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of getting ready to go on the trip, but incredibly easy to talk about what it feels like coming home. I guess you could say I get butterflies in my stomach. My name is Flecher and I am one of the photographers for IEP.  

So much happens on an IEP mission and so many people are affected in such a great way. But it really all boils down to that one kid who comes into the screening area, sorta scared, not really knowing what is happening. He can barely walk or maybe not at all because both his feet are turned inward from polio. We see this kid go through the stages of the transformation so up close and personal, so vulnerable, so real. 

I can easily get tossed into a roller-coaster ride of feelings. One minute I'm focused and working hard, and the next I'm crouched in a corner of the hospital hallway crying. 

A few days later, you see him drift off to sleep on the operating table and you can’t help but not share his fright and you shed a couple of tears with him. Everything is about to change for him. 

Nearing the end of our mission is when the waves of turbulent emotion turn into incredible highs of joy and happiness as you say goodbye to that one kid. You see the casts on his legs and know that his feet have been straightened where before they were turned in and getting worse with each passing year. 

I’ve seen numerous cases like this, so I know from experience that this boy's whole life just took an incredible turn for the better. 

Like I said, I’m going again to work for IEP to help people who need it. But maybe I’m really going to selfishly feel that feeling again of unplugging from my usual routine and simply being of service to people. It feels so good.

Flecher at work in the operating room.

Monday, October 9, 2017

10 Weeks until Vietnam: Henry Duvalsaint

The IEP team is getting ready for our next mission to Vietnam in December. Over the next few weeks, we'll post the impressions and thoughts from different members of the team as they prepare. 

Today's post is from Henry Duvalsaint, our amazing project coordinator who manages to handle all manner of logistics from travel to locating interpreters and coordinating with local businesses and officials. 

IEP is about to embark on another mission to Vietnam. I have been involved with this organization for eight years as the project coordinator.

I am involved in the planning process of each mission along with Drs. Lehnert and Spanko and Jennifer Lehnert. Putting together the right personnel for the mission is extremely important. Making sure that we have the right and enough equipment including medicine for the patients to ensure our mission success. 

The journey to Can Tho is very long and takes about 20 hours total to reach our destination. But after a good night sleep, the team is ready to move into action. During the two weeks that we are in Vietnam, the surgeons will perform 40 to 50 surgeries on children and adults suffering from foot and ankle deformities. 

I am very fortunate to be part of such group. The greatest source of satisfaction I enjoy as part of IEP is really seeing and witnessing how much IEP has changed the life of so many deserving people.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Healing Hands Wins Award at SVAFF

"Healing Hands," May Yam's documentary short about the International Extremity Project's 2016 mission to Namibia, was a chosen selection for the eighth annual 2017 Silicon Valley African Film Festival. During the weekend, the festival screened 90 films representing 30 African countries.

During the festival, May Yam was honored with an award for Achievement in Documentary Short Film. With support from United Africa Group, May joined us in Namibia to document our work and profile some of the people that IEP had the privilege of helping while we were there.

Congratulations May and thank you for your wonderful portrayal of IEP and the people of Namibia.

Watch the video here:

Follow May Yam Studios on Facebook to keep up with her projects and news about her work with IEP.