Upstate News

February 1, 2008
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate surgical team travels to Vietnam to bring smiles to the faces of children

A goodwill trip to Southeast Asia by a contingent of nurses and doctors from SUNY Upstate Medical University and other medical institutions has literally brought smiles to the faces of young children.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) sponsored a trip to Vietnam in early November so medical experts from the United States could lend their surgical talent to reconstructing the faces of children suffering from head and neck deformities.

“It was an outstanding experience to be able to share our expertise and give these children a better outlook on life,” said Holly Dailey, a registered nurse with University Hospital’s Olivia Pietrafesa Center for Children’s Surgery who traveled with her SUNY Upstate colleagues facial plastic surgeon Sherard Tatum, M.D., AAFPRS Fellow Lamont Jones, M.D., in the Department of Otolaryngology, and Susan Carney, C.S.T. Dailey’s travel expenses were supported by a SUNY Upstate’s Patil Pediatric Endowment Award, which provides expanded learning opportunities for nurses.

The excursion was part of the AAFPRS’s Face to Face program that sends surgical medical teams around the globe to tackle complex medical cases in need of extra assistance.

“We do have more experience, knowledge, and skill than our Vietnamese colleagues in many issues related to facial deformities,” said Tatum. “However, they often are very capable and are mostly held back by equipment and supply issues.”

The team performed nearly two dozen surgeries to repair cleft palates and post-traumatic reconstruction of scar revisions and facial rejuvenation during the group’s visit to the National ENT Hospital of Vietnam in Hanoi Nov. 3 to 11.

Surgical training also was on the team’s agenda. Tatum and his colleagues taught new surgical techniques to the Vietnamese physicians. “One of our goals is to teach them and enhance their level of expertise. We lecture to them, do demonstration surgery, and do cases together. We also learn from them,” Tatum said.

This was the fourth visit to this Hanoi hospital for the AAFPRS group. Each year physicians from the United States return to find that many of their teachings and suggested medical improvements have been implemented, evidenced by a new department of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery that opened at the hospital a year ago.

“It’s a great example of the power of education, especially on this level, to see that the wisdom we impart across the globe is meaningful and useful,” Tatum said.

Jones said the visit to Vietnam highlighted the significant disparities in healthcare between the countries. “Whenever you go out of the country, you realize how fortunate you are for the level of medical care available here in the United States,” he said.

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