Medical Mission in Vietnam: Surgeries, Day 3

The team was back at the hospital Monday morning for our third day of surgeries. We started the morning with two complex cases. One was a bilateral clubfoot repair on a pediatric patient. The other addressed an ankle fracture that had not been successfully set at the time of the original injury -- 35 years ago. (That's not a typo.) 

You don't need a medical degree to see the fracture.

Later in the day, the team repaired an Achilles tendon that the patient had ruptured ten years ago. It's remarkable to know how much hardship some of our patients have endured due to deformities or injuries. In some cases, we encounter patients that we could help with surgery, but they're unable to take the time to recover because they need to work to feed their families.
Creative up-cycling.
  • 10-year-old boy: bilateral clubfoot repair
  • 27-year-old woman: bony procedure
  • 44-year-old woman: neglected ankle fracture
  • 47-year-old man: soft-tissue procedure
  • 55-year-old man: ankle and pelvic fractures
  • 59-year-old woman: Achilles tendon repair
  • 60-year-old man: soft-tissue procedure
Just spending time in Can Tho, you get a strong sense that the word "no" doesn't exist. The ingenuity displayed in daily life exemplifies amazing creativity to overcome challenges. There are examples everywhere, from transporting 15 birdcages on a single scooter to creating a wheelchair from patio furniture.

One of our patients during the day was a team effort with the orthopedic team from the hospital for a patient that was in a traffic accident this week. Dr. Nyska worked to set the ankle, while the Vietnamese orthopedists worked on the pelvic fracture. 

It's surprising that we don't see more traffic accidents given the number of scooters on the roads. There are hundreds of scooters for every car on the road and most intersections don't have lights. Stop signs don't exist. It's almost like watching schools of fish interact -- somehow they manage to flow into the right places with far fewer accidents than you'd expect. The lines on the road are merely a suggestion and just crossing the street -- whether on foot or on two wheels -- is an exercise in bravery.