Complex surgeries and happy kids! – Thanh Hoa, 2017

We had a fabulous second day of surgery. There were zero complications, plenty of happy kids and grateful parents.

Looking at our collections of pictures, you don’t see the anatomical change of a urology surgery. What you do see is the smile after a parent or child looks under their cover to see a penis that wasn’t before visible, or an opening where it finally belongs. They can feel like other kids, maybe for the first time. A 4-year-old told me “I hope you fix it”– well, we did!

The Vietnamese culture is beautiful in the way they value family. It is common for not only mother and father (Ma/Bo) to be there for their baby’s surgery but both grandmothers (Ba Noi/Ba ngoai), as well as uncles and aunties (Co/Chu). After 3 collaborative missions to this site, my Vietnamese is improving with help from the local team.
-Stacey, Medical Records and Logistics

Drs. Donald Nguyen and Yuri Reinberg are the urology surgeons traveling with CSI this week in Vietnam. Most of the surgeries they will perform on this trip are complex urological procedures, mostly for young boys. Sometimes these are “redos” from previous surgeries that were not completely successful for various reasons. Both surgeons are working alongside local urology surgeons. They collaborate and share knowledge throughout the surgical process.

Donald reflects on how “spoiled” we get in U.S. hospitals – “we can do everything with the most skeleton back table with the simplest instruments and sponges! We are using modest, but classic, equipment. Side-by-side OR tables that were classic in olden days, like at Boston Children’s where Hardy Hendren, considered by most as the grandfather of Pediatric Urology, would operate on two patients at the same time, going back and forth between the tables.”

In Thanh Hoa, Donald and Yuri are working in one operating room, with two tables. It’s busy, and interesting. There are endless opportunities for learning, as the room is filled with CSI and Vietnamese surgeons, anesthesia professionals and OR nurses.

From CSI nurse, Laura Peterson:
Each day gets a little more familiar than the last. You start to connect with these kids, their families, their stories. You learn where they came from, how far they traveled, if they have siblings, and get a better appreciation for the life-changing surgery the day will bring.
It feels like we aren’t doing enough, but in this culture surgery means the WORLD.
Each family asks us to make their child “perfect” {seriously}. And the first day I was confused- WHO CARES if he/she is perfect?
I don’t get it.
But without surgery – they would be shunned.
Because of Children’s Surgery International, they will get to hold jobs, have a family, and “become something”. A normal part of Vietnamese society. {I hate the word NORMAL but it’s the best way to describe this}.
Now I get it. Let’s go day 3… time to give these kids the WORLD.

See lots of photos from the day here.