Local Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon Changing Lives in Vietnam

Pascal Rippstein, MD Recently Returned from Surgical Outreach Project to Vietnam
ROSEMONT, IL, Aug 3, 2011 – Local orthopaedic surgeon, Pascal Rippstein, MD of Zurich participated in this year’s 10th Annual Surgical Outreach Project to Vietnam with members of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). The surgeons provide corrective surgery to Vietnamese children and adults with lower extremity deformities and disabilities. Since the first project in 2002, more than 700 patients have benefited from their service performed without charge. Due to the cost, many of these patients would likely never receive the care or surgery provided by Dr. Rippstein and the AOFAS members.
Dr. Rippstein was among three teams of visiting AOFAS member volunteers traveling to villages and towns in northern Vietnam over a four week period working side by side in clinics and operating rooms with Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons and residents as part of an educational exchange. The AOFAS members volunteer their time, pay their own travel expenses, and in the end their own lives are changed by the experience.
When asked about his experience, Dr. Rippstein remarked, "It has been a unique experience. I am more appreciative now of own surroundings and grateful for the conditions I live in. The experience makes me want to contribute my surgical skills around the world and help diminish a little bit of the misery some people endure."
The AOFAS Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam supported by the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Outreach & Education Fund (OEF) is a partnership initiative with the Seattle-based Prosthetics Outreach Foundation (POF), which has been providing prosthetic limbs to Vietnamese children and adults without charge since the 1990s but until ten years ago lacked an advanced medical services component for patients in need. 
As a complement to the mission of the POF, the AOFAS project offers corrective surgery to patients with lower limb deformities and disabilities caused by polio, cerebral palsy, clubfoot, trauma or amputation. Many patients are from impoverished areas often without access to care and/or are unable to afford advanced medical services. Over the ten years of the project, AOFAS surgeons have seen more than 2,000 patients in clinics and operated on more than 700 patients. The AOFAS members share new technologies with Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons and in return are exposed to foot and ankle conditions that many have only read about as classic textbook cases, such as severe untreated clubfoot. In addition to the surgical component, the AOFAS co-sponsored its tenth annual educational conference on Surgery of the Lower Extremity in Hanoi. The visiting surgeons participated in the educational exchange which was attended by more than 150 Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons. This cultural and professional exchange further enhances the experience for both AOFAS members and Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons, while the service and educational components of the mission create opportunities for local surgeons to learn directly about new surgical advancements in the treatment of foot and ankle disease and deformities.
In addition to Dr. Rippstein, participants in this year’s project were: Mario Kuhn Adames, MD, Florianopolis, Brazil; Angel Arnaud Franco, MD, Monterrey, Mexico; L. Samuel Barouk, MD, Bordeaux, France; R. Dale Blasier, MD of Little Rock, Arkansas; Peter B. Salamon, MD, Stockton, California and Naomi Shields, MD, Wichita, Kansas.  During the four week project, the surgeons traveled to hospitals and orthopaedic rehabilitation centers in Dien Bien, Thai Nguyen, Hai Phong, and Hanoi.
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society is a professional society of more than 1,800 orthopaedic surgeons specializing in diagnosis, care and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle. The Surgical Outreach Project to Vietnam is supported by the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Outreach & Education Fund by generous donations from individuals and industry. To find out more about the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society and the Surgical Outreach Project to Vietnam, or the Prosthetic Outreach Foundation log onto www.aofas.org or www.pofsea.org.
About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.​
About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.


Jennifer Hicks
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