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Professor Hattori - an honorable citizen with a compassionate heart

TTH.VN - What was initially planned as a 3-month journey by Dr. Hattori Tadashi in 2002 eventually extended to over 20 years, taking away much from him but bringing light to over 60,000 people in Vietnam. He didn't take any salary, even using his own pocket money to cover expenses for financially-struggling patients and to support some Vietnamese hospitals with ophthalmic medical equipment.

Giving sight, bringing smilesHue Eye Hospital: To Affirm its unique brand

Professor - Dr. Hattori Tadashi examines a patient's eyes. Photo: Hue Eye Hospital 

Professor - Dr. Hattori Tadashi (born in 1964, Japanese nationality) is the Executive Director of the Asia Prevention of Blindness Association. He was recently awarded the title "Honorary Citizen of Thua Thien Hue Province" in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the province's development, for the goals of peace and social progress.

Leaving a well-paid job for Vietnam's patients

Dr. Hattori vividly recalls the fateful encounter that brought him to Vietnam: In October 2001, Kyoto University School of Medicine, where he had previously studied, hosted a conference. It was there that he met a Vietnamese doctor who invited him to Vietnam to perform eye surgeries for disadvantaged patients and to mentor and share his experiences with local doctors.

After six months of consideration, Dr. Hattori decided to resign from a high-paying hospital job and set off for Vietnam with the mindset of "just volunteering for three months". However, what he witnessed in Vietnam captivated this doctor.

"I was very surprised to see many patients who had lost one eye for a long time, only to come to the hospital when the remaining eye suffered from cataracts or something else that prevented them from seeing. There were cases where surgeries were essential for saving the eyesight, but the patients insisted on going home because they couldn't afford the operation," Dr. Hattori shared.

 Professor - Dr. Hattori Tadashi performing surgery on a patient. Photo: Hue Eye Hospital

Back in Japan, Dr. Hattori still grappled with what he had seen in Vietnam. He discussed it with his wife, who had initially opposed his volunteering trip to Vietnam. Without much thought for themselves, he proposed to his wife to use the several million Yen they had saved to buy an apartment to support Vietnamese patients.

I told my wife: “We can live in a rented house if necessary, but if these patients don't get surgeries right away, they could go blind. If we use this money to buy the latest eye surgery equipment and medical tools, we could save over 2,000 people in a year, even tackling difficult surgical cases. So please allow me to use that money," Dr. Hattori recounted.

On his second return to Vietnam, Dr. Hattori brought along medical equipment and supplies, which rapidly increased the number of surgeries performed. However, the accumulated funds began to dwindle. To continue pursuing his goal of helping disadvantaged patients in Vietnam, Dr. Hattori began shuttling a lot between two countries Japan and Vietnam.

After every two weeks in Vietnam, he would return to Japan to work tirelessly, saving up money to buy the apartment and using the remaining funds to purchase surgical medical equipment to help patients in Vietnam. Hattori practiced as a freelance doctor in Japan for two weeks, continuously performing surgeries in hospitals across various provinces.

Having a deep affection for Hue

Professor - Dr. Hattori Tadashi is known as one of the top experts in Japan in treating retinal and vitreous diseases. He is also a world-leading surgical doctor in techniques such as anterior chamber intraocular lens (ACOL) implantation and phacoemulsification surgery. With his love for Thua Thien Hue province, Dr. Hattori not only performed surgeries for patients directly but also transferred techniques, imparted knowledge and skills, and mobilized resources to enhance the quality of healthcare service at Hue Eye Hospital.

 Professor - Dr. Hattori Tadashi at the ceremony receiving the title of "Honorary Citizen of Thua Thien Hue Province." Photo: Thai Binh

In Thua Thien Hue, every year, Professor Hattori Tadashi visits Hue Eye Hospital 2 to 3 times and performs surgeries for about 6,000 cases. Particularly in 2023, Professor Hattori facilitated a connection that helped Hue Eye Hospital receive a grant of $20,000 for a project providing free eye surgeries for impoverished children under 20 years old. Through his dedicated guidance and companionship, he serves as a remarkable example and motivation for the medical team in Hue, helping them strive to enhance their professional skills and provide better healthcare service to the people day by day.

"Given the increasing demand from patients afflicted with posterior segment eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma, he continues to instruct and transfer techniques to the doctors at Hue Eye Hospital regarding examination, treatment, and surgery for these conditions. Thanks to this, up to now, Hue Eye Hospital has been proactive in utilizing these techniques. This has created very favorable conditions for patients in the Central region to receive treatment and surgery, which previously could only be done in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Professor Hattori is indeed the bridge for building professional expertise and friendship with Hue Eye Hospital," shared Director of Hue Eye Hospital, Pham Minh Truong.

Professor Hattori Tadashi has been awarded the Friendship Medal by the President of Vietnam; the Ministry of Health has awarded him the Medal of Honor "For the People's Health"; and he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2022, often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Asia."

At the ceremony for the conferral of the title "Honorary Citizen of Thua Thien Hue Province," Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Phuong acknowledged and highly appreciated Professor Hattori Tadashi's compassionate heart and meaningful deeds. He thanked him for his invaluable contributions to the field of healthcare in general and his work in treating patients with eye diseases in particular.

"The noble actions and compassionate heart of Professor Hattori have left a profound mark in the hearts of every citizen, contributing to spreading faith and hope within the community. In Thua Thien Hue, he not only directly performs surgeries for patients but also transfers techniques, imparts knowledge, skills, and mobilizes resources to enhance the quality of healthcare service at Hue Eye Hospital. He is a remarkable example for the medical team in Hue, striving to improve their professional expertise and serve the people better," affirmed Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, Nguyen Van Phuong.

Expressing gratitude for being conferred the title "Honorary Citizen of Thua Thien Hue Province" by the Provincial People's Committee, Professor Hattori Tadashi stated that he is delighted and honored to receive this prestigious title. He will continue to accompany the province to bring light to many patients with difficult eye conditions in the province; through this, he and many others could contribute to making Thua Thien Hue a more developed, happy, and sustainable community.

More than 60,000 people have been able to see the light.

For over 20 years in Vietnam, Mr. Hattori Tadashi has devoted himself to bringing light to impoverished patients suffering from eye diseases. Through tens of thousands of free surgeries, he has helped over 60,000 patients regain sight of their loved ones and the world around them. Additionally, he has trained over 60 specialist eye doctors with high expertise in hospitals across Vietnam. His noble actions and compassionate heart have left a profound mark in the hearts of every citizen, contributing to spreading faith and hope within the community.

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