Members of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) returned to Vietnam to care for children and adults with lower extremity deformities and disabilities as part of the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam. Since the program began, AOFAS members have performed more than 1,500 surgeries and evaluated more than 3,500 patients, all at no cost to the patients.
“The program is a life-changing experience both personally and professionally. It will take you out of your comfort zone and remind you why you decided to be a doctor and surgeon,” said volunteer Justin L. Cashman, MD, MBA, from Performance Orthopedics in Annapolis, Maryland. “Treating patients who have the greatest need, with little to give in return, is very rewarding. I can’t say enough about the experience.”
This year’s volunteer group included 11 foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons from four different countries. Each doctor spent one week working alongside local orthopaedic surgeons to perform surgery and evaluate patients in hospitals and clinics in Hanoi, Vinh, and Ba Vi.
F. Scott Gray, MD, from Connecticut Family Orthopedics and Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, explained that even though there was a language barrier between the AOFAS surgeons and the Vietnamese surgeons, there was an unspoken rhythm that seemed to be present in the operating rooms. “On many occasions, I had no problem getting any instrument I needed without asking,” he continued.
Recognizing the importance of education and collaboration with their Vietnamese counterparts, AOFAS volunteers presented at the Seminar on Surgery of the Lower Extremity, co-sponsored by AOFAS, Mobility Outreach International (MOI), Vietnam Ministry of Health, and Viet Duc University Hospital. The Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons attending the seminar utilized simultaneous interpretation devices.
In addition to Drs. Cashman and Gray, volunteers included Angel Arnaud, MD, Monterrey, Mexico; John A. DiPreta, MD, Albany, New York; Justin M. Kane, MD, Dallas, Texas; Kathleen A. McHale, MD, Alexandria, Virginia; Phinit Phisitkul, MD, Sioux City, Iowa; Naomi N. Shields, MD, San Antonio, Texas; Altug Tanriover, MD, Ankara, Turkey; Joan R. Williams, MD, Santa Monica, California; Yuan Zhu, MD, Shanghai, China.
Surgeons volunteered their time and paid for their travel to Vietnam. In-country expenses were covered by the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation, supported by a grant from Stryker. MOI, the Society’s partner organization, provided on-site assistance and coordination for the annual program.
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 consist of four years of medical school, five years of postgraduate residency, and a fellowship year of specialized surgical training. These specialists care for patients of all ages, performing reconstructive surgery for deformities and arthritis, treating sports injuries, and managing foot and ankle trauma.
About the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation
The Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), is a 501(c)(3) organization that advances the AOFAS mission to improve lives through exceptional orthopaedic foot and ankle care. Through its funding of humanitarian endeavors, educational outreach programs, and innovative research, the Foundation enhances foot and ankle care for patients around the world. For more information visit the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation online at aofas.org/foundation.
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