Bridge of Life Up Close

First Medical Mission to Vietnam Brings Health, Hope and Smiles

Despite a long journey and hot, challenging days, the 17 DaVita teammates who traveled to Sai Gon, Vietnam in March 2015 made a tremendous impact during Bridge of Life’s first Medical Mission to the country.

Teaming with Project Vietnam Foundation, we provided surgical, kidney care and primary care services to nearly 3,000 people over the course of 14 days. It was an amazing effort!

As part of the mission, our medical volunteers provided restoration surgery to 70 children with a cleft lip/palate. Some of the patients traveled great distances with their families in order to receive care. And while our team provided critical surgical expertise to help improve these children’s lives, they left with some meaningful benefits of their own. As one surgeon shared, “I came to Vietnam to give these kids a chance to smile, but I am the one leaving with a lifetime of happiness in my heart.”

Kidney care was another focus of our mission, and volunteers also spent time at hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho assessing two of the largest dialysis clinics in Vietnam. Together, these two clinics provide 5,500 dialysis treatments monthly to people with chronic kidney disease. And, despite valiant efforts, one hospital director estimates that half of the people in need of dialysis in the country are left without access to treatment. As a result, Bridge of Life is exploring ways to better educate and treat the underserved who are at risk of kidney disease in Vietnam. Clearly, there is opportunity for future mission trips to the country.

For the first time, we also had a team of volunteers focused on offering primary care to individuals in need. We provided health consultations and audiology, dental, vision and women’s health services to 2,488 people living in the rural highlands of Nghe An province. It was gratifying to reach so many men, women and children with a need for medical care in just four days.

Overall, our first venture into providing care in Vietnam was a wonderful learning opportunity and a meaningful experience for volunteers and community members alike.

Look for future blog posts that share remarkable firsthand accounts of volunteer experiences from Bridge of Life’s March 2015 Medical Mission to Vietnam.

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