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Main | February 2010 »


Phan Rang, Vietnam-Michelle Dodge, Interplast Director of Finance.

Luon and his wife traveled over 40 km (24miles) from their village to be seen by the team. Luon was a corn and papaya farmer at the time of his accident. As he and his wife prepared to go to sleep, he set down his lantern on the table near his bed. While they were asleep, the wind knocked over the lantern and spilled hot oil over his chest and neck. His accident happened nearly nine months ago, and since then he has been unable to work his land because of the limited movement he has due to his burn contractures. Unable to work his land, Luon was forced to sell his property. His 16-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter and his wife all work in a local factory in order to support the family.

After his surgery, Luon told the team he could now work again and take care of cows for other farmers to once again make a living for his family. As he woke from surgery in the recovery room, he called over the translator, not for medication or for any physical complaint, but to ask her to thank the surgeons for him, to thank them with all his heart.

Ten Years with Interplast, First Interplast Trip

Phan Rang, Vietnam-Michelle Dodge, Interplast Director of Finance.

It’s amazing to meet our patients firsthand and to see all these beautiful people come to the team in need of surgery. After working with Interplast for ten years, this is my first team trip. As Interplast’s director of finance, I only have time to work on the financial aspects of Interplast. However, this experience has put the work we do into a new light, and it’s a privilege to witness where all our hard work goes. 

A Meaningful Trip

Before heading to Vietnam, Dr. Steve Garner, Interplast volunteer plastic surgeon, sent us a short email highlighting the importance his time in Vietnam would have for him. Steve is now in Phan Rang working in partnership with local medical staff, to bring reconstructive surgery to those in need:

“Vietnam will be a special trip for me. The majority of my childhood was during the Vietnam War years with agonizing war images plastered on TV, magazines, and the broken hearts of those on both sides on the conflict who suffered it in ways I cannot even imagine. I wept the day, in 1979, I received my acceptance letter to medical school because I knew I would never ever have to be sent anywhere on the planet as a combatant. To be able to go now to that same sliver of earth's Southeast Asian geography as an American citizen on a humanitarian trip is an emotional and sentinel event for me as well as a humble reminder than I am truly one of the fortunate sons.”

First Day of Surgery

Phan Rang, Vietnam-Steve Garner, Interplast volunteer plastic surgeon.

Hello from Phan Rang.  Finished our first day of surgery.  Two tables in the same room.  Patients with cleft lip and palate problems, vascular malformations and complex hand deformities.   We were at the hospital for nearly 11 hours and then went back again after dinner.  All patients safely tucked in for the night!  Some bigger burn scar contracture surgery cases tomorrow. 

Now in Phan Rang

Phan Rang, Vietnam-Steve Garner, Interplast volunteer plastic surgeon.

Greetings from Phan Rang.  All is well after our long trip and our first day of work.  We saw more than 50 patients in clinic today and set up our preliminary operative schedule.  The people are lovely, warm and appreciative.  Many cleft lip/palate cases, congenital hand deformities and severe burn scar contractures.  Almost no signs around the hospital or town are bilingual; the only good one was at the radiology department, which was called "Dept of Imaginal Studies." 

Global Health