AOFAS sends volunteer surgeons to underserved areas for 16th year
Rosemont, Ill. (August 10, 2017) – Volunteers from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) returned to Vietnam for the 16th consecutive year to provide corrective surgery for children and adults with lower extremity deformities and disabilities. Over the course of four weeks, AOFAS volunteers traveled to hospitals and rehab centers in Yen Bai, Ba Vi, Vinh, and Hanoi treating patients and working with local orthopaedic surgeons.
This year’s volunteer group evaluated 240 patients in clinics and performed surgery on 91, all at no cost to the patients. Since the first AOFAS Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam in 2002, almost 1,400 patients have benefited from surgery performed by AOFAS volunteers, and more than 3,200 patients have been seen in the clinics. Most patients are from impoverished areas and lack access to care. Others are unable to afford advanced medical services.
“This type of mission really tests you and makes you realize how lucky we are in our first-world situations,” said volunteer surgeon Geoffrey M. Tymms, MBBS, of Melbourne, Australia. “It is a privilege to be able to help people who would otherwise get limited or no care for their problems.”
Volunteer surgeons Lorenzo Gamez, MD (left) and Geoffrey M. Tymms, MBBS (right) examine a young patient at the Vinh Orthopedics Rehab Center in Vinh, Vietnam
Scope of Volunteer Work
Patients with untreated congenital deformities are common in the Vietnamese clinics, and they have a range of challenging conditions. The knowledge and care that AOFAS volunteers offer is critical for these underserved populations as many treatments used in the United States for foot and ankle problems are not available in Vietnam.
Michael B. Strauss, MD, FACS, of Long Beach, California, said, “I was able to manage horrendous, neglected club foot deformities by using external fixators that I brought with me—something apparently never done before in Vietnam with club feet. It was a pediatric extension of the type of procedures I do in the US for adult foot deformities.”
The AOFAS surgeons volunteered their time and paid for their own travel to Vietnam. In-country expenses were supported by the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation with charitable donations from individuals and industry. This was the 16th annual project sponsored by the AOFAS and its partner organization, Mobility Outreach International (MOI).
Michael B. Strauss, MD, FACS (center) and Isabella V. van Dalen, MD, PhD (right) demonstrate surgical technique to a local surgeon at the Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.
During the four-week project, which ended in mid-June, the volunteers worked at orthopaedic rehab centers and engaged with residents. In addition to Drs. Tymms and Strauss, volunteer surgeons included Lorenzo Gamez, MD of East Setauket, New York; Kathleen A. McHale, MD, of Alexandria, Virginia; Naomi N. Shields, MD, of Wichita, Kansas; Altug Tanriover, MD, of Ankara, Turkey; Ruth L. Thomas, MD, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Isabella V. van Dalen, MD, PhD, of Almere, Netherlands.
Education is an important part of the outreach project. The AOFAS volunteers presented with Vietnamese surgeons at the annual conference on Surgery of the Lower Extremity held on June 3 in Hanoi. Co-sponsored by the AOFAS, MOI, the Vietnam Ministry of Health, and Viet Duc University Hospital, the conference utilized simultaneous translation and was attended by 170 Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons.
About the AOFAS
As the professional organization of foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons, the AOFAS promotes quality, ethical, and cost-effective patient care through education, research, and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other healthcare providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international healthcare communities. For more information, visit www.aofas.org.
Mobility Outreach International is a Seattle-based leader in orthopaedic rehabilitation in developing countries. MOI seeks to ensure that children and adults with limb loss or limb deformities have access to high-quality orthopaedic and physical rehabilitation services so they can enjoy lifelong mobility. MOI staffers support developing countries in their effort to provide prosthetic care, orthopaedic surgeries and treatment for children with clubfoot through hands-on teaching and training. For more information, visit mobilityoi.org.
About Foot and Ankle Orthopaedic Surgeons
Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Their education and training consists of four years of medical school, five years of postgraduate training, and often a fellowship year of specialized foot and ankle surgical training. Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons treat patients of all ages, performing reconstructive procedures, treating sports injuries, and managing foot and ankle trauma.
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