Anne Thomas: Immediate Change
March 5, 2019 Help Hand

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Anne Thomas: Immediate Change
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My name is Anne Thomas. I am a pediatric anesthesiologist and this is my 2nd trip with Interplast, and my first trip to Vietnam. I am really impressed with the graciousness and the warmth of the people with whom we have worked. During the time that we’ve been here our hosts have gone out of their way to treat us with respect, and have honored us with about as much assistance and access to their facilities and as much wonderful food as we can eat! I have to say that I’m becoming an addict for the rich, creamy white coffee that is to be found here in Vietnam. I admit with some guilt that I had three today.

I’m also pleased with the quality of the team members, and although there is a high level of focus on the work at hand people seem to get along well and truly enjoy each other’s company. We’re mostly managing to stay well, and I wish to assure friends, family and well-wishers that we’ve all gone out of our way to avoid talking to strange birds! Our first day of surgery has gone remarkably smoothly. I think that one of the things I enjoy most is seeing how our efforts immediately bring the prospect of changing the course of someone’s life. The parents of our patients seem to be lovely people who go out of their way, through our translators, to thank us for our efforts. It feels so good to be able to help. Everybody wins here.

One final thought: I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an amazing abundance of exotic and often bizarre fruit. Today I ate a small hairy red fruit which I am told is related to a lychee; it was sublime!

Susan and Burn Patient
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Hi. I am Susan Hayes, President of Interplast, and it is my pleasure and privilege to be accompanying the My Tho, Vietnam team for the first week of its work here. On our first day—“clinic day”—our doctors and nurses saw and screened some 130 individuals, both from My Tho, and from great distances. Many were babies, some were children, and a few adults came to us for help; but for each of them and their families, there was the unifying factor of hope. Hope that through the Interplast team and our valued colleagues here in My Tho, their disfigurements can be repaired, their function restored, their lives changed.

Our team members hail from all over the United States and beyond: from California, Maine, Washington, South Carolina, Oregon, New Hampshire, and even Great Britain. Many of our team members are new to Interplast, and the team is balanced by a number of “veterans,” making for a wonderful mix. It is always amazing to me to watch a team come together. It begins at the airport when they meet as strangers, and less than 48 hours later are fast friends, roommates, and operating professionally as a well-oiled machine—as if they had worked together for years. They are unified by their desire to help.

My Tho is an outstanding Interplast site. Every day the operating room is filled with doctors and nurses from the My Tho hospital observing, asking questions, learning, and working hands-on with our team. Interplast’s ultimate goal is to hand the scalpel over, to provide sufficient support, medical education and training that Interplast doctors and nurses will no longer be required to perform surgeries on the poor in My Tho, or any other site, because we will have worked successfully to increase the surgical capacity of that site, and the needs will be taken care of locally. Given the high level of motivation and skill of the My Tho medical personnel, that will surely happen here.

Helping Hand
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A dad giving a helping hand at the playground.

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