FTC Returned to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
March 12-25, 2012
Our collective surgical teams' 31st trip abroad was March 12-25, 2012. We returned to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to operate at two facial surgery specialty hospitals, the Odontomaxillofacial Hospital (OMFH) in District 1 (Saigon District), and the National Hospital of Odontostomatology (NHOS) in District 5 (Cholon, or Chinese District).
On March 15-16, Randolph C. Robinson, MD, DDS, FAACS, Oral, Maxillofacial, and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon, presented for the ninth time at facial surgery seminars in Ho Chi Minh City. His topics included techniques for nasal reconstructions, eyelid surgeries, and facial bone lengthening. Dr. Laurence Colletti, Orthodontist, also presented on Class III patients, or patients who have facial asymmetry where the mandible is prognathic (too large) and the maxilla (upper jaw) is too small.
Being involved with ongoing seminars and demonstration surgeries is essential. Regarding our teaching in general, one host surgeon recently commented, "I don't want to waste any chance to learn effectively from your generous and precious help and make our limited career skills improve." We are glad for his enthusiasm to learn and apply new skills.
We joined a surgical team from near Melbourne, Australia who also had speakers teach at this seminar, held at the Windsor Plaza Hotel in District 5. Just prior to this seminar, their team of 40 divided into teams and did humanitarian surgeries at four different locations. We met this team's leaders, Dr. Jamie Robertson and Dr. William Besley, in December 2010 and continue to be impressed with their skills, character, and common vision of serving those with great needs.
Also presenting at the seminar was Robert C. Russell, MD, FACS, FRACS, Plastic Surgeon, of Springfield, Illinois. He spoke on skin grafts, tissue flaps, and "paddles" in the cases of major reconstructive surgeries (gun shot wounds, loss of scalp tissue, and post-tumor removals). Dr. Russell was one of the first plastic surgeons asked by the U.S. State Department to come to Vietnam and help normalize relations. He did so through teaching and performing reconstructive surgeries. He has continued doing humanitarian surgeries in Vietnam since the mid-1980s.
On Saturday March 17 our team screened prospective patients or did post-operative consultations on patients who had facial tumors removed by our team in April 2011 or earlier. We met with about 40 people. The conditions of patients screened included congenital or growth deformities, tumors, and injuries from motor vehicle accidents and an accidental sulfuric acid burn. Surgeries were done on Monday March 19-Friday March 23; three days at the OMFH and two days at the NHOS.
Our team included:
- Randolph (Randy) Robinson, MD, DDS, Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon, Centennial, CO, Team Leader
- Laurence (Larry) Colletti, DDS, Orthodontist, Denver, CO
- BC Shauver, CRNA, Nurse Anesthetist, Jacksonville, FL
- James (Jim) Qiheng Shen, MD, Anesthesiologist, Jacksonville, FL
- Patsy King, BSN, RN, Operating Room Nurse, Denver, CO
- Leslie Wiggin, RN, Operating Room Nurse, Denver, CO
- Gabriela (Gabi) Stoeger-Stevens, BSN, RN Post-Anesthesia Care Nurse, Denver, CO
- Ginger H. Robinson, BSN, RN, Cardiac/Critical Care Nurse, Liaison, Denver, CO
We truly were privileged to serve "poor and unlucky children," as one of our host surgeons described them, along with some adults with dire needs.
At the OMFH our team joined their staff of surgeons, anesthesiologists/anesthetists, and nurses to do a total on 25 surgeries during that week. The patients came from six provinces in southern Vietnam: Long An, Binh Thuan, Tien Giang, Tay Ninh, Binh Duong, and Ho Chi Minh City (a province as well as a city). Our team did ten surgeries in three days, including seven pediatric cleft lip and palate repairs, a six-hour case to remove a very large jaw tumor, orthognathic surgery for an adult cleft patient, and skin grafting for a boy accidentally burned by sulfuric acid.
The department director, Dr. Le Thi Viet, shared on April 2, "... we appreciate much for your great efforts to the Vietnamese... Patients who were treated by your team came back home with happiness for themselves and their families. They all healed and are very happy with the results... It was a good time for us to work together for children."
At the NHOS our team did two cases. One was a facial bipartition for a 21-year-old woman born with a Tessier #0 facial cleft that ran vertically from her forehead downward through her nose. It caused her eyes to be widely-spaced, a very rare presentation called hypertelorism. This eight-hour case involved Dr. Robinson doing 18 different osteotomies (cuts through bone) to free up, remove, and reposition the facial bones. Ultimately, her surgery involved a Le Fort III approach in order to reconstruct her severe deformity. After her surgery was completed we discovered she had a twin sister without any deformities. For the first time in 21 years, these two women's faces looked nearly alike!
The final case at the NHOS was for a woman with a large tumor involving her mandible and temporomandibular joint (jaw joint or TMJ). The tumor was so invasive that half of her mandible had to be removed. In the future she will have reconstructive surgery to fill the space the tumor left.
In addition, Dr. Colletti met with orthodontists in their clinics at both hospitals throughout the week. He was present to answer questions and guide patient planning based on his own experience.
As with each trip, FTC donates items useful for surgeries and learning to both hospitals and poorer province hospitals where they do their own missions trips. This time we gave:
- four current orthodontic principles and techniques text books,
- a model skull with strategic bone plates affixed as guides, surgical caps and hats,
- Vicryl, Prolene, silk, and gut suture, and Colorado microdissection needles, anesthesia medications, IV and oral antibiotics, pain, anti-nausea,
and anti-hypertensive medications, laryngomask airways (LMAs), surgical instruments - two ramus (mandibular) bone spreaders,
- Surgicel (absorbable knitted fabric with cellulose to control intra-operative bleeding), infant and toddler blankets,
- 30 patient zippered vinyl care kits, and 30 Cowboy the Kid teddy bears for the children who received surgeries.
We are thankful to do what we could. We appreciate your financial support to cover the costs of the surgeries and team travel expenses. And your prayers on behalf of the patients, their families, and our team were especially needed and answered.
On this trip the family members were extremely grateful, openly trembling and crying tears of relief, smiling, embracing us, and keeping our fresh fruit supplies overflowing. Through these and future surgeries we pray Jehovah-Rapha, Our God Who heals, is honored.
Mrs. Ginger H. Robinson, BSN, RN, Cardiac/Critical Care Nurse
President, Face the Challenge, Inc.