Life Life

07/02/2018 - 09:30

"Golden Hands" in Surgery

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh, Deputy Head of the Department of Pediatric Surgery and Abdominal Emergency, Hue Central Hospital is considered a rare talent in Hue in the field of surgery. He is not only good at his profession, but his colleagues also say that he has “a cool head and a warm heart”.

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh (middle) directly performs laparoscopic surgery for a difficult case

The "warm heart" at the operating table

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh was destined to choose his career in medicine. At high school, he was good at every subject. In 1990, he entered Hue University of Medicine with a very high score.

The days he started his profession, he had to witness the pain torturing patients. That some people even die because there was no chance of surgery concerned him a lot. The burning desire to become a surgeon grew, urging him to study and research more.

In 1996, he graduated with an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree and finished his residency in 2000, specializing in surgery. Being well-qualified and fluent in foreign languages, he was selected to participate in fellowship programs in Belgium (2001-2002), and in France (2004-2005). After that, he participated in short and long training courses in surgery in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, France and Belgium.

Currently, Dr. Phan Hai Thanh is one of the rare talents in Hue in the field of surgery. The Department of Pediatric Surgery and Abdominal Emergency has always to deal with severe cases, about 3-4 cases per day, and he is in charge of operating most of them.

He is called by his colleagues the man who has "a warm heart and a cool head" when performing in surgeries. In more than 20 years performing surgeries, he has always come early, talked to patients and their family members to create warm atmosphere and gain their trust. In the surgeries, he has performed wholeheartedly and accurately on every millimeter with every move, and concentrated hard on the surgeries despite the fact that many surgeries may last for 5-7 hours, sometimes it could be more.

Being asked what cases in his career made him remember most and most impressed, Dr. Thanh laughed: "A lot of them." Recently, a patient named H. was transferred directly from a sand-exploiting boat to the Department of Emergency, Hue Central Hospital, because of getting rolled by a machine, with traumatic retroperitoneal injuries, ruptures in the liver, spleen, pulmonary contusion, broken ribs and hip.

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh received the Vietnam Talent Award in 2015

Receiving the news, Dr. Thanh rushed to the patient together with the anesthesia resuscitation team and cardiovascular surgery team, transfused eight units of blood, performed surgery to suture his liver, heart, and reconstruct his chest wall as the best they can to save him. After more than five hours, the operation was successful, they were bursting with joy. During that day, his phone rang constantly, the Director of the hospital showed up to congratulate them just in time.

Recently a teacher in Quang Trach, Quang Binh had iliac artery aneurysm. When the patient got to Hue Central Hospital, he fell into a coma because of blood spilling into the small intestine. This is an unprecedented case in medicine, the mortality rate is very high, but after the consultation, immediately conducting emergency surgery, the surgery was successful beyond expectation.

Being deeply concerned with tumors "made in Vietnam"

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh shared, everyday he has to witness as well as treat many severe cases of tumors in lung, liver, gallbladder, gastric cancers, colorectal cancers. Among them, there are large tumors which metastasize all over the body. In such cases, he remembered the joking phrase that these are the tumors "made in Vietnam" which his foreign colleagues have mentioned in medical conferences. This is what urges him to study and update his knowledge with the world's new medical advances to treat difficult cases.

After 2000, Dr. Thanh in cooperation with Assoc. Prof. Pham Nhu Hiep (now the Director of Hue Central Hospital) and his colleagues have developed and applied new techniques in endoscopic surgery to bring hundreds of patients back to life.

The techniques that he has deployed are in the study of Application of Laparoscopic Surgery in the Treatment of Stomach, Duodenum and Gastric Cancer. This is also the work that brought he and his associates the "Vietnam Talent in 2015", the Ancient Capital’s Science and Technology Award 2016 (a quinquennial award).

Many colleagues acknowledge that he is a passionate person in the field of gastric cancer surgery, especially stomach cancer, colorectal cancer. Recently, he and his colleagues deployed 3D laparoscopic surgery techniques through natural orifice to operate on the liver, pancreas, stomach, rectum, etc. This technology, applied for the first time in Vietnam, helped reduce the time of surgery to 70-80% compared with the traditional laparoscopic surgery, reduce the cost of treatment, and prolong patients’ life.

"Gastrointestinal cancer is not scary now," Dr. Thanh said. “The problem is that it is detected too late.” Listening to him, I suddenly remembered my business trip to Chu Se district, Gia Lai province last month, I happened to meet Le Van D., from Phu Vang, suffering from stomach cancer for more than five years, and he is still healthy. When asked, Mr. D. said that he had gone to many places, doctors all said, "you should come home to enjoy your last days." Unexpectedly when he received the treatment at Hue Central Hospital, he could still be alive today. Mr. D said "two thirds of my stomach have been left at Hue Central Hospital then. My life savior is Dr. Hai Thanh. I still keep his phone number."

Dr. Phan Hai Thanh was born in 1972, finished his PhD in 2011. Currently, he is a member of the Vietnam Association of Surgery; specialized in gastrointestinal surgery, liver and bile surgery; Clinical lecturer at Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy; lecturer of advanced laparoscopy surgery for medical doctors from South East Asia who practice and research at Hue Central Hospital.

Story and photos: Minh Van