The Story

Shot taken as part of a documentary about Project TVD picturing surgical teaching by Dr. Saifuddin Mama.


Dr. Tung Van Dinh was a prominent Vietnamese physician in Danang. He was an obstetrician gynecologist who started medical school in Hanoi in the 1950’s, then moved to Danang and Saigon to complete his training when Vietnam was divided in 1954. In the early 1960’s, he was one of the first Vietnamese physicians who went to the United States for further training. He attended Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore on a fellowship. After returning to Danang, he rose to become director of Danang General Hospital (Benh Vien Da Khoa Da Nang).

After the fall of South Vietnam, Dr. Dinh and his family emigrated and settled in Galveston, Texas.  Dr. Dinh underwent retraining and became board-certified in both Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston.

Dr. Dinh joined the faculty at UTMB and rose quickly to full professorship. Honoring the Vietnamese tradition of using the first name, he was well known locally as “Dr. Tung.” His passion continued in patient care and teaching. He won many teaching awards and recognition including the prestigious Osler Institute Scholar Prize.

The Beginning

During this time at UTMB, Dr. Tung also encouraged his colleagues to visit Vietnam (and Danang) to bring new knowledge to teach the local physicians. This effort started out slowly, initially as a trip by a single physician, Dr. L.C. “Charlie” Powell in 1998. This led to the initial team of 3 physicians, Charlie Powell, Garland Anderson and Tri Dinh, in 1999. This first team of American physicians gave several lectures to the physicians in the hospital. There was no plan or preparation for any clinical care. Gradually, the didactic teaching lessons evolved into bedside teaching (rounding) and later to actual direct patient care and surgeries.

After the passing of Dr. Tung Dinh in 2003, his 4 children continued the work with Danang General Hospital in his memory. The respect and friendship that their father had established with the local physicians helped tremendously in maintaining this effort – it has facilitated the continued cooperation between the American and Vietnamese physicians.

A Legacy

Dr. Dinh has 4 children, who are now all grown and have their own families and busy careers. However, each has dedicated time to this project to honor both their father and mother.

Dr. Tuan Anh Dinh, the oldest son, is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and an expert in high-risk pregnancies. He is on the faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Robert Woods Johnson School of Medicine & Dentistry in New Jersey. Tuan has visited Danang several times and has participated in the management of many difficult cases. He is well-known in Danang for his expertise in fetal ultrasound, and has full clinics every day that he is in Danang.

Dr. Tue Anh Dinh, the second son, is a plastic & reconstructive surgeon in Houston, Texas. He is on the faculty of the Houston Methodist Hospital and Weill-Cornell Medical College. Tue has returned to Vietnam on multiple occasions with Project TVD and other plastic surgical mission trips. Tue, along with an Italian pediatric urologist, Dr. Roberto DeCastro, pioneered a new genital reconstruction technique that they named the “Danang Procedure.”

Dr. Tri Anh Dinh, the third son, is a gynecologic oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Tri has assumed the responsibility of organizing Project TVD every year and has returned to Danang annually since 1999. In addition to coordinating the logistics for the physician teams, Tri has also coordinated elective rotations for medical students to learn in Danang. He has also conducted research along with local Vietnamese colleagues. Their research centers on knowledge and acceptability of the HPV vaccine as well as understanding how patients make medical decisions within the context of local culture and customs.

Dr. Tho “Bella” Dinh-Zarr, the youngest and only daughter, is an internationally known authority in transportation safety.   She was the 42nd Member of the National Transportation Safety Board, and served as Vice Chairman and Acting Chairman. Bella has visited Vietnam (and many other countries) to evaluate and give recommendations to decrease traffic deaths and injuries.

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