Faces of Heart Care: A Medical Training Visit to Vietnam in Pictures

Published May 22, 2023

Medical volunteers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Showa University in Japan joined clinicians in Hanoi, Vietnam in April 2023 for a week-long Children’s HeartLink training visit. National Children’s Hospital (NCH) hosted the volunteers as well as their peers from Nhi Dong 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, another Children’s HeartLink partner hospital. 

In Vietnam, an estimated 10,000 children are born with congenital heart disease annually, and approximately 25% need surgery in the first year of life to survive. Only five pediatric cardiac programs in Vietnam offer surgery for infants, leaving at least half of these children without access to treatment.

Through the Children’s HeartLink partnership, NCH has been improving their pediatric cardiac care program with the help of medical volunteers from UCSF. Their mentorship has brought advanced cardiac treatments to the team, which is helping the local team save more children with heart disease.

Children’s HeartLink Country Director for Vietnam, Adriana Dobrzycka, brought back these wonderful photos to help us all see inside the training. Training visits like this one are made possible by Children’s HeartLink supporters and funders like Ping and Amy Chao Family Foundation and Transparent Fish Fund, who have been sponsoring our work in Hanoi since 2017.

group-photo-heart-care-team-training-vietnamMembers of the heart care team at NCH and volunteers from UCSF and Showa University pose for a picture before a welcome meeting.

dr-shunji-sano-dr-tran-minh-dien-conversation-vietnamDr. Shunji Sano speaks with Dr. Tran Minh Dien at the welcome meeting. Dr. Sano is a medical volunteer from Showa University in Japan. He was with UCSF when the Children’s HeartLink partnership began and continues to be the leader of the UCSF team. Dr. Dien is the hospital director at NCH.

dr-mark-cocalis-dr-sarah-tabbutt-medical-volunteers-vietnamMedical volunteers from UCSF Dr. Mark Cocalis and Dr. Sarah Tabbutt during the welcome meeting.

congenital-heart-disease-case-discussions-hanoi-vietnamThe group gathered early in the week to discuss the cases of children with heart disease that could be operated on during the training visit.

dr-hung-nguyen-dr-tung-cao-dr-thoi-ngo-cardiac-care-case-discussionsDr. Hung Nguyen (left), an anesthesiologist from UCSF, sits next to Dr. Tung Cao, who is the vice director of NCH and a pediatric cardiologist by training. Next to him is Dr. Thoi Ngo, the senior pediatric cardiac surgeon from Children’s HeartLink partner hospital Nhi Dong 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. 

3d-visualization-congenital-heart-diseaseThe teams weighed in on diagnoses while the patient’s diagnostic data was displayed on the screen. Discussions were taken a step further with a 3D representation — presented by Dr. Hirofumi Seo, CEO and president at SCIEMENT Inc. — that could be studied to enhance insight regarding the heart defect. The clinicians in the room were captivated by these visuals that could be manipulated for them to better understand the anatomy of the heart defect and plan for the child’s heart repair.

pediatric-cardiac-care-icu-nurse-bedside-training-vietnamHelen Busch, intensive care unit (ICU) nurse from UCSF, bedside during nursing rounds for children with heart disease at NCH.

nursing-rounds-pediatric-cardiac-care-vietnamDuring nursing rounds, the teams listen intently to an interpreter as they discuss patient cases. 

presenting-a-congenital-heart-disease-patient-during-rounds-vietnamDr. Chi (second from right) presenting a patient during rounds to Dr. Tabbutt from UCSF (fourth from right) and Dr. Sano (second from left).  

case-presentations-pediatric-cardiology-vietnamCase presentations are made by various members of the team at NCH.  

post-operative-intensive-care-unit-congenital-heart-diseaseOne of several rooms of the post-operative ICU at NCH. Here Dr. Chi is presenting the patient to Dr. Tabbutt during morning rounds.  

What happens on a Children’s HeartLink training visit

Every medical training visit is unique and designed with the country and hospital’s needs in mind. Some Children’s HeartLink visits may focus on a surgical technique, others on nursing practices and others on taking a team approach to fixing a specific heart defect. 

With each training visit comes a chance for clinicians in underserved countries to solidify the foundations of pediatric cardiac care and elevate local expertise while addressing and improving methods used in screening, treating, repairing and caring for more children with congenital heart disease. This is an urgent need because 1 in 100 children is born with heart disease globally, and 90% of them lack access to the lifesaving care they need.

All members of the heart care team benefit from these trainings as they learn to communicate and collaborate more efficiently and ultimately save more children with congenital heart disease. 

This is the foundation of our train-the-trainer model. Medical volunteers instill and elevate expertise while improving multidisciplinary teams, so clinicians can improve upon techniques, save more children and pass on the professional knowledge to more medical professionals into the next generation.doctor-listening-to-pediatric-cardiac-patients-heart-with-medical-training-makes-a-difference-donate-now-text

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.
About National Children’s Hospital
Located in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and second largest city, with a regional population of over 30 million, National Children’s Hospital (NCH) is a hub for a network of 14 provincial hospitals. It has the largest cardiac program in the country and provides most of the advanced care. The University of California San Francisco (UCSF), a partner since 2017, is committed to a multi-year relationship with NCH. Together, they developed a plan to increase NCH’s capacity to serve even more children.
About Nhi Dong 1
Children’s HeartLink’s 2008 partnership with Nhi Dong 1 brought our work back to the country where it all began almost 40 years prior. Nhi Dong 1 is a dedicated children’s hospital providing services to children of Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnam, where two-thirds of the country’s population lives. With their training partner, Boston Children’s Hospital, Nhi Dong 1 is focusing on enhancing ICU care, nursing educations and advanced surgical techniques, as well as developing echocardiogram capacity and advanced diagnostics.
About University of California San Francisco
Volunteers from University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospitals work with several Children’s HeartLink programs, traveling internationally on medical training visits and serving as virtual educators to train medical professionals and expand access to pediatric heart care around the world. They are among the best in the U.S. for diagnosing and repairing the most complex cases of congenital heart disease, and offer expert cardiology services to children of all ages and adults living with congenital heart disease.
About the Ping and Amy Chao Family Foundation
The Ping and Amy Chao Family Foundation was founded in California’s Silicon Valley in 2005 by Ping Chao and his wife Amy. The foundation was established to fund nonprofit and public welfare initiatives that (1) improve children’s health in developing countries; and (2) nurture a spirit of philanthropy among the younger generation in China and of the greater Chinese Diaspora. While the Chao Foundation is based in the Bay Area and has local projects, many of its programs focus on developing countries in East Asia, from China and Cambodia to Vietnam.