Monday 22 April 2019

Helping Vietnam's poor to walk again

Emma Gallagher

A nurse from Cloonacool who was recently back volunteering in Vietnam with a group of medical staff has helped 100 people receive vital hip and joint replacements.

Mary Marren was in Vietnam last year too when she was volunteering with Operation Walk Ireland, which helps provide vital operations to patients in need.

Mary, who is a nurse tutor in Ulster University, was working in theatre in a Hanoi military hospital during her time there.

She said: "We came back on Saturday. A fellow Sligo man Eddie Sheehan from Rathcormac accompanied me this time.

"Eddie is an engineer in Medtronic in Galway and was working in CSSD where all the instruments are decontaminated and sterilised."

It was an extremely busy but totally worthwhile experience helping the patients receive much-needed hip and joint replacements Mary said.

The Sligo natives were joined by volunteers in the medical field from all over the world, working together to help the patients, some as young as 23 years of age.

Mary explained: "This year we joined a group of over 140 volunteers from all four corners of Ireland including volunteers from England, Australia, America and Vietnam.

"We travelled to military hospital 108 in Hanoi where we set up a ward to accommodate 100 patients. There was also 4 operating theatres and CSSD (Central Sterile Services Department).

"Our team was made up of Surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, health care assistants, physio therapists, biomedical representatives, CSSD staff, translators, engineers, administration staff, media staff and general helpers."

Not only was there so many medical staff involved, there was also a huge amount of equipment to facilitate the surgeries.

Mary said: "Over 2000kgs worth of equipment had to be shipped to Vietnam in order to facilitate this mission.

"Starting work at 7am each morning we carried out 16 joint replacement surgeries each day.

"Over the course of 10 days in Hanoi we operated on 100 patients and replaced 102 joints - hips and knee replacement (2 bilateral cases).

"The patients were simply amazing and so inspiring.

"Many were very poor with complex arthritic disease and would not have been able to avail of this surgery without our help.

"To put this into context one of our patients was only 23 years old and had severe difficult mobilising without our intervention. Post surgery he is now walking with the aid of crutches. Another woman was being held by her husband on his back, carrying her around in a contraption he had made. Post op you can see her weight bearing with her hands in the air.

Mary said none of this would have happened without the support from people who donated money to Operation Walk Ireland. "All of this would not be possible without the funds raised by all who contributed to our campaign, so we would like to thank each and every one of you for your kind donations. To find out more about the work we do please follow us on Facebook @Operation Walk Ireland and on Instagram @opwalkireland," she added.

Sligo Champion