Phan Rang, Vietnam-Steve Garner, Interplast volunteer plastic surgeon.
We finished our first week of surgery with wonderful results and no problems whatsoever. Michelle Dodge has been amazing for someone NEVER in an operating room before. It can get a bit gnarly in there for the lay person. Another star on the roster has been our PACU nurse hero, Jules, on his very first Interplast trip who brings a huge professional experience to the team. We want to see him be like our fearless team leader, George, still tirelessly serving the Interplast worldwide family in his 70s! I should have his kind of energy. Truly amazing cumulative lifetime contribution to medicine and to charity.
We took a short rest over the weekend at a nearby town of Nhatrang on the South China Sea coast. Fascinating open air markets with endless varieties of dried fish. Also some kind of herbal wine with a cobra and a scorpion in the bottle. It was described to me as Vietnamese home brew Viagra. No comment.
For the nice day boat ride around the harbor, our tour guide was about the same age as me and grew up in Nhatrang. He learned English well as a boy from some US Naval officers stationed there in the 60's and 70's. He made it through those awful wartime years in a peaceful location only to get sent two years later to fight in Cambodia. One of only 4 out of 64 in his unit to survive an ambush. He had to lay on the ground with a shrapnel wound in his chest feigning death so the enemy soldiers "cleaning up" didn't shoot him as they did most of his comrades laying on the ground. We looked tearfully at each other thankful to be alive and to be sitting together having coffee. I could not have felt more humbled and referred back to my original post regarding my feelings about going to Vietnam.
Back to another busy surgery week tomorrow. We also are very excited to see the results of some burn and tumor reconstruction grafting we did very early in the trip to ensure safe follow-up time. Elated to say, they are all looking GREAT. Still hard for all of us not to worry until the patients are safely healed. George is actively arranging even further long term care by local physicians for after we depart.