60 Irish medics to will fly to Vietnam to perform life transforming operations
Sixty Irish medics will fly to Vietnam in April to help people who are in desperate need of orthopaedic surgery.
The group - which comprises of 10 surgeons, six anaesthetists, physiotherapists and nurses - will undertake Operation Walk Ireland to offer poverty-stricken Vietnamese people the chance to live normal lives.
The medics will carry out joint replacement operations on an estimated 50 patients, while also providing training for local surgeons.
The 60 medics are all freely donating their time in support of a campaign founded by Irish orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Derek Bennett.
Dr Bennett's concept was inspired by US orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Larry Dorr, who launched a similar campaign in 1996 to help the Vietnamese people and foster links between the two countries.
This will be the first ever Operation Walk from outside of the USA.
The group will travel to Hanoi in April and base themselves at a military hospital, where four operating theatres will be available for them to use for one week.
The medics are bringing their own joint implants, generously provided by two medical device companies, as well as any necessary supplies in an effort to not drain the resources of the local hospital.
All patients have been pre-selected and are people who desperately need orthopaedic surgery and cannot access local treatment.
Elective joint replacement surgery is often out of financial reach for the majority of Vietnamese people - with a standard surgical procedure normally costing the equivalent of three years' wages.
The campaign will concentrate on those aged 30-60 who require replacement joints so that they can get back into the workforce and provide for their families.
Of a population of 90 million in Vietnam , about 700/800 undergo joint replacements annually. In Ireland, about 5,000 patients have joints replaced out of a population of 4.5 million.
Operation Walk Ireland is expected to cost in excess of €250,000, with €125,000 of that needing to be fundraised.
All 60 members of the team are paying their own travel expenses, and are currently fundraising for the campaign.