November 22, 2019
4-22 November, 2019 — Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Hanoi, Vietnam
The Child Genital Reconstruction Surgery Program, which provides free surgeries for Vietnamese children suffering from severe genital birth defects or loss of genitals from trauma, recently launched its 14th mission across Vietnam. From November 4-22, 2019, a team of surgeons traveled throughout the country to provide free surgeries to 84 Vietnamese children in need. As of 2019, a total 487 surgeries have been carried out to support the positive health outcomes of child patients in Vietnam.
The reconstructive surgery program was inspired by the case of “Miracle Baby” Thien Nhan, an infant who was discarded at birth and abandoned in a jungle in 2007. Thien Nhan suffered a total loss of genitals and one leg due to a brutal attack by wild animals. The baby infant resiliently survived the incident and was subsequently adopted, coming to live happily with his new family in Hanoi, Vietnam. With the support of a renowned Italian surgeon, Thien Nhan later received a successful reconstructive surgery. The young boy is now an official Goodwill Ambassador who symbolizes the need of many young children who suffer from genital defects or loss of genitals due to traumatic incidents and are in need of life-changing support and assistance.
After news of Thien Nhan’s successful surgery in Italy spread to Vietnam, many other Vietnamese families came forward with tragic stories of their own children in need. Although genital defects and other related concerns are not typically discussed in Asian countries, the story of Thien Nhan’s recovery sparked conversation and brought the issue to light.
The story of Thien Nhan also served as a catalyst for AIP Foundation Founder and President Mr. Greig Craft to independently establish the Thien Nhan & Friends program, with the support of AIP Foundation Deputy CEO Ms. Hoang Na Huong, and Board Member Ms. Tran Mai Anh. For Mr. Greig Craft, the program aligns closely with AIP Foundation’s mission, with both ventures aiming to address unnecessary suffering and reduce injuries and fatalities among vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries.
Along with adoptive mother Ms. Tran Mai Anh, godparents Greig Craft, Hoang Na Huong, Dr. Roberto De Castro, a highly acclaimed Director of Pediatric Surgery and Urology in Italy, and a team of internationally renowned surgeons donate their time and skills every year to carry out the mission of promoting the health and well-being of children in need through the program.
Dr. De Castro has enjoyed a highly acclaimed 40-year career and was formerly Director of Pediatric surgery at Maggiore Hospital, Bologna, Italy, and former Head of Pediatric Urology at the King Faisal Hospital, Saudi Arabia. He now devotes his time to humanitarian missions to help poor children around the world.
In November 2019, for the 14th mission of the program, the Child Genital Reconstruction Surgery Program team began in Ho Chi Minh City at Children’s Hospital #2, benefitting 15 children who received reconstructive operations. The team then traveled to Da Nang to carry out 22 operations at the Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children. The 14th mission was concluded in Hanoi, with 40 complex procedures conducted at the National Hospital for Pediatrics and Viet Duc Hospital. Many of these challenging and complex reconstructive surgeries can last from between 8 to 10 hours—and in some cases, even longer.
Through the program, Vietnamese pediatric urology surgeons are trained in training seminars and surgical workshops. A number of Vietnamese surgeons will also be selected to train in Italy starting next year, building the capacity of medical practitioners in the country to help children and patients like Thien Nhan.
The Child Genital Reconstruction Surgery Program was established by AIP Foundation Founder and President Greig Craft as an independent venture, with financial support provided almost exclusively by friends, family, and Vietnamese donors.