Global Partners Share Training Memories & Gratitude for Medical Volunteers

Published April 3, 2023

Our appreciation for the medical volunteer team’s assistance is beyond words.”

-Dr. Nguyen Ly Thinh Truong, National Children’s Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam

Dr. Truong participating in a patient case discussion during a training visit from University of California San Francisco medical volunteers in Vietnam

Medical volunteers are the backbone of Children’s HeartLink. They are the medical professionals who generously share their time and knowledge to train clinicians around the world and expand expertise of pediatric heart care, ultimately giving more children with heart disease a chance at living a life in which they can thrive. 

Our organization has seen a robust return to travel in the past year, meaning many of our medical volunteers have now flown to the countries where our partner hospitals are located – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam – to train clinicians and build relationships in-person. Training visits are part of our blended learning model and complement the virtual learning opportunities that we’ve expanded and standardized over the past three years. 

This month, we’re recognizing and celebrating our many medical volunteers as part of Volunteer Appreciation Month. We’ve asked several clinicians at our global partner hospitals to describe the impact of medical volunteers on their practice. Here’s what they shared: 


Dr. Debasis Das, Sr. Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital 

My favorite memory with a medical volunteer is with Dr. David Overman when I first met him. This was in Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (the hospital where I worked previously), and I was not aware for a significant time in the operating room that he was there at the head end observing me do a Tetralogy Pulmonary atresia. Later on, when I descrubbed, I met him formally and got some great inputs.  

Watch Dr. Das share a message of gratitude for medical volunteers:
After that I have maintained a great liaison with him and was glad when he visited us in our current hospital (part of the same organization) on a subsequent trip. That led to a formal partnership with Children’s HeartLink. Dr. Overman has helped mentor our surgical program immensely.  

We have understood the importance of teamwork from the medical volunteer teams and have taken some really constructive inputs. Also, nursing empowerment and its effect on outcomes has been an eye-opener and we are working on that continuously.  

The blended learning model has given us more opportunities to interact and that is a major advantage. Also, it means staying in touch continuously, which enhances the relationship with the volunteer team. 

Medical volunteers from Children’s Minnesota visiting Narayana Superspeciality Hospital – Howrah in 2019.

Read about how our partnerships are helping to increase the number of children with heart disease treated, the complexity of surgeries and the quality of care provided.


Dr. Nguyen Ly Thinh Truong, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery Department, Director of Children Heart Center, National Children’s Hospital 

I know Professor Sano through many articles in scientific journals. I met him a few times and was impressed with his knowledge and logic in reasoning about pathology and his insight into pathophysiology of congenital heart disease. The first time professor Sano came to Vietnam, he visited Bach Mai Hospital and Viet Duc Hospital according to a suggestion from the Ministry of Health. I tried to contact him and luckily got an appointment to meet him at Bach Mai Hospital. After almost 4 hours of waiting in the lobby of Bach Mai Hospital, I finally met the professor, and since then we have been in touch via email and started to lay the first bricks for our future partnership. That memory has always accompanied me throughout my working journey until now. 

Dr. Sano (left) and Dr. Truong (right) watch with smiles as Children’s HeartLink and National Children’s Hospital (NCH) formalize our partnership.

Patients with PA-VSD-MAPCA and ccTGA caused us a lot of trouble. Professor Sano teaches our entire team the foundations while tackling our issues and the methodology of complex procedures at the highest level in the clearest and most understandable terms. Using the fundamentals of pathology, we may learn more about each complex variety of congenital heart disease, boosting our comfort level while discussing and comprehending congenital heart disease. That provided us with important insight about how to save challenging congenital cardiac patients in Vietnam. 

Our appreciation for the medical volunteer team’s assistance is beyond words. Action is the only way to convey that return. We recognize that the teachers and the logistical staff are willing to travel great distances, deal with language barriers, travel across different time zones and sacrifice everyone’s vacation time in order to help our team. These journeys are to us in our efforts to save more Vietnamese infants who have congenital heart disease. Also, it is our highest privilege and responsibility as medical professionals everywhere. 

We continue working hard to pass on the spark of professional enthusiasm and knowledge that has been passed down to us from our mentors to the next generation in the hopes that it will never expire, be able to spread to as many colleagues as possible and help rescue as many patients as possible. 

Learn how volunteers like Dr. Shunji Sano are improving pediatric cardiac programs and outcomes for complex heart surgeries in Vietnam. 


Prof. Dr. Abul Kalm Shamsuddin, Professor & Senior Consultant of Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon, National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute (NHF), Bangladesh 

Not one, there are many favorite moments with volunteers:  

  • When I first met with whole enthusiastic and committed volunteers team at the rooftop restaurant of hotel 
  • The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing between Children’s HeartLink and NHF in presence of all senior officials particularly Children’s HeartLink president, our president Brig. (Rtd) Abdul Malik sir and Mr. Omar Ishrak 
  • Getting to know one another as people at the rooftop party at our hospital 
  • Attending the interactive teaching sessions 
Hands on Training at NHF in Bangladesh
During the first training visit to Bangladesh in December 2022, health care workers gathered around for hands on training.

The medical volunteers have inspired us with their eagerness and enthusiasm to teach our staff and their cordial approach to implementing standard protocols. 

One way they have changed how we care for our patients is our intensive care unit (ICU) nurses started practicing some safety protocols that they have shown and we started daily handover at the morning along with written handover sheet as suggested by Dr. David Finn. 

See how we are reaching children with congenital heart disease in Bangladesh, the most recent country in which we work.


Dr. Brijesh P K, Clinical Professor, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, following the recent surgical workshop held there: 

We would like to thank Dr. Mohan Reddy and Mr. Clinton Jones for taking time off their busy schedule, visiting us and teaching us the advances in pediatric cardiac surgery and perfusion techniques. Their commitment to teach and contribute to pediatric cardiac surgery is truly inspiring. 

Photo from the February 2023 training visit hosted at Amrita Hospital in Kochi.

Each visit has been an amazing experience and helped us to advance in our field. It was truly an amazing experience. It was a tremendous learning week for all of us as well as for the visiting perfusionists from Children’s HeartLink partner sites (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences and G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital). 

Children’s HeartLink Centers of Excellence like Amrita Hospital in Kochi serve as training centers for other hospitals in their region. Read more about training programs. 


About Congenital Heart Disease
One out of 100 babies is born with congenital heart disease worldwide. Congenital heart disease is due to an abnormality in the structure of the heart. A child born in an area with access to pediatric heart care will likely survive and go on to live a healthy and active life. Sadly, for 9 in 10 of these children, they lack access to high quality care because it is not available or too expensive. Children’s HeartLink is working to change that by training in-country pediatric heart teams to treat children in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. 
About Children’s HeartLink
Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. The global nonprofit organization (NGO), partners medical volunteers from top teaching and research institutions with doctors, nurses and health care professionals in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam to develop or improve pediatric cardiac care programs. Since 1969, the organization has reached more than 1.5 million children.