This was our largest group ever! Overall, 25 of our members participated in this year’s work week in Da Nang, with 14 family members in attendance. At the height of the week, we had 41 people in our group activities at any one time (counting 2 physicians who came in from the medical university in HCM City to help translate). It was well represented from all specialties including anesthesia (1), ophthalmology (1), plastics surgery (2), family medicine (1), cardiology (1), thoracic surgery (1), internal medicine/ palliative care (1), but the biggest representation continue to be from OB-GYN with 12 physicians including sub-specialists in gynecologic oncology, urogynecology (pelvic medicine) and maternal fetal medicine.
Over the week, in regards to direct patient care, we consulted many cases (difficult to keep an accurate count). Care was provided for patients with difficult gynecologic issues including developmental disorders, gynecology chemotherapy, breast cancer patients requiring reconstruction, palliative care and symptom management for oncology patients. We also did surgical procedures alongside our Vietnamese colleagues. Highlights from such procedures include Dr. Ian Makey doing nuss bar placement for pectus excavatum and a sub-sternal esophageal reconstruction; Dr. Tue Dinh and Safa Sharabi doing multiple breast reconstruction procedures, including the teaching of a new technique to harvest an autologous dermis graft to improve breast reconstruction outcome, and demonstrating a new technique to prevent painful neuromas to their colleagues in plastics surgery. There was also a joint TVD case of a resection of a perineal tumor with reconstruction with a pudendal perforator flap (Drs. Joe Lucci and Tue Dinh). We also did reconstructive gynecologic surgery for a congenital pelvic malformation (Dr. Saifuddin Mama), 3 ovarian cancer debulking surgeries (Drs. Tri Dinh and Joe Lucci), and helped our colleagues with multiple cesarian sections, hysterectomy, myomectomy, etc. All of these procedures were done in conjunction with our Vietnamese colleagues as teaching is the main goal of our work. Typically, our team member would demonstrate the technique and then our younger Vietnamese colleagues would take over to finish and learn by doing.
Outside of the operating theater, Dr. Linda VanLe consulted on multiple medical gynecology cases as part of our ongoing fellowship program in gynecology. Dr. Eric Krakauer and his 2 Vietnamese colleagues from the HCM City School of Medicine and Pharmacy consulted on palliative care cases at the Oncology Hospital. Dr. Chris McLeod did multiple cardiac ablations under local anesthesia. Dr. Gayle Olson and Alisa Modena continued the annual ultrasound clinic, where they performed ultrasounds to confirm fetal anomalies on multiple patients and taught ultrasound techniques to multiple providers who came to watch and learn from these 2 expert OB sonographers.
This year was a really banner year for conferences. We had large, well attended conferences in OB-GYN, preinvasive cervical disease, palliative care, breast and perineal reconstruction. Additionally, we provided lectures on ophthalmology, cardiology, female genital anomalies and congenital syndromes, pelvic pain, and endometriosis to our local colleagues and other local hospitals via zoom.
An ongoing project by TVD is supporting the IGCS fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at Da Nang Oncology Hospital. With the fellowship only having started in 2017, we have one fellow graduated, one fellow ready to sit for the graduation exam this year, and one fellow in her first year of training. All of our clinical and teaching activities were coordinated by the 3 physicians in our fellowship; They are changing the way women with gynecologic cancers are being treated in Da Nang and the entire region.
But it’s not all work! TVD has always mixed work with fun, which is our secret sauce. Thanks to our activities coordinator, Myn Demmon, our team members had outings to the ancient capital of Hue, multiple shopping trips locally in Da Nang and to Hoi An, a snorkeling tour, an amazing cocktail evening on a high rise roof with a striking night-time view of Da Nang. Multiple dinners were also held, including a lavish gala hosted by Dr. Vinh, the director of the Women and Children’s Hospital – karaoke by both the members of our group and the local physicians provided the entertainment! Dr. Phuong Nguyen, a local radiologist and friend of TVD, was instrumental in helping plan the local activities.We are a social bunch! As said best by one of our members, Ian Makey, “It was so much fun socializing with everyone,”; Makey went on to share that this was the most “social” of all trips that he has ever been a participant.
Overall, it was one of the most productive trips by TVD ever in the 20+ years that we have been coming to Da Nang. Already, we are talking about 2023 and planning how to engage many more of our colleagues and friends in TVD in the next trip. Stay tune for upcoming announcements for 2023.