Humanitarian Work Draws AOFAS Surgeons to Vietnam

Orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists return to treat patients in need

ROSEMONT, Ill. (July 13, 2015) – Volunteers from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) returned to Vietnam this year to provide corrective surgery for children and adults with lower extremity deformities and disabilities. For four weeks, AOFAS volunteers traveled to hospitals and rehab centers in Ba Vi Province, Hai Phong City, Vinh City and the capital city of Hanoi, treating patients and working with local orthopaedic surgeons.
This year’s volunteer group evaluated 247 patients in clinics and performed surgery on 76, all at no cost to the patients.
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AOFAS volunteers Angus McBryde, MD (center) and D. Scott Biggerstaff, MD (right) perform surgery on a Vietnamese patient.
 Since the first AOFAS Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam in 2002, more than 1,200 patients have benefited from surgery performed without charge by AOFAS volunteers, and more than 2,800 patients have been seen in the clinics. Many patients are from impoverished areas and lack access to care. Others are unable to afford advanced medical services.

“The problems we saw were different from those we see in the United States in our daily practices,” said Peter Salamon, MD, of Stockton, Calif. “There were many children with untreated congenital abnormalities and adults who suffered the lingering effect of polio, undertreated infections and untreated trauma. Access to medical care is at a premium, and when the word got out that the American specialists would be coming, the demand to see us was significant.”

Tackling Surgical Challenges with Limited Resources
Patients with untreated congenital deformities are common in the clinics and have a range of challenging conditions. AOFAS volunteers used basic orthopaedic principles to accomplish specific surgical goals because many of the implants, instruments and imaging tests used in the United States for diagnosing and treating orthopedic foot and ankle problems are not available in Vietnam.
“We provided orthopaedic consultation and advice for some very complex lower extremity problems, and handled
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AOFAS volunteers Naren Gurbani, MD (left) and Mario Adames, MD (right) evaluate a Vietnamese patient.
 surgical cases that normally are not done in Vietnam,” said Thomas Hearty, MD, of Grand Rapids, Mich. “We taught Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons how to address and treat complex lower extremity deformity and injury, and we learned a lot from our hosts.”
The AOFAS surgeons volunteered their time and paid for their own travel to Vietnam. In-country expenses were supported by the AOFAS Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation with charitable donations from individuals and industry. This was the 14th annual project sponsored by the AOFAS and its partner organization, Mobility Outreach International (MOI).
During the month-long project, which ended in mid-June, the volunteers worked at orthopaedic rehab centers in Hanoi, Hai Phong City, Vinh City and Ba Vi Province. They also worked with residents at Hanoi’s Viet Duc University Hospital. In addition to Hearty and Salamon, the AOFAS volunteers included Mario Adames, MD, Florianopolis, Brazil; D. Scott Biggerstaff, MD, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Angus McBryde, MD, Mobile, Ala.; Naren Gurbani, MD, Downey, Calif.; L. Daniel Latt, MD, PhD, Tucson, Ariz.; Victor Macko, MD, Stockton, Calif.; and Naomi Shields, MD, Wichita, Kan.
Education is an important part of the outreach project, and the AOFAS volunteers presented at the annual conference on Surgery of the Lower Extremity held on June 6 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 118 Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons. The program included presentations by four Vietnamese surgeons. The AOFAS volunteers also presented at smaller seminars in the hospitals where they worked.
About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through 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 MOI
Mobility Outreach International is a Seattle-based leader in orthopedic rehabilitation in developing countries. MOI seeks to ensure that children and adults with limb loss or limb deformities have access to high-quality orthopedic 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.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, care and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system 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.
AOFAS Executive Office