“Church Donates Medical Gift to Vietnam,” Ensign, June 1992, 74–75
Lives of disfigured Vietnamese children can be changed, thanks to a medical gift donated by the Church to Vietnam.
Elder Merlin R. Lybbert of the Seventy, president of the Asia Area, accompanied a group of United States doctors to Vietnam to witness the treatment and training that accompanied the medical gift.
“This wasn’t only a matter of treating a few young people; it was also a matter of training, because the Vietnamese surgeons didn’t have the instrumentality and know-how to perform the surgeries,” Elder Lybbert explained.
The gift allows surgeons to perform microsurgery, an operation that reconstructs body parts with tissue from other parts of a patient’s body. Working under a microscope, surgeons sew small arteries and veins of the grafted tissue to the new site to keep the tissue alive.
The trip was sponsored by Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that sends medical teams to developing countries to perform free corrective surgery on disfigured children. During the Vietnam trip, doctors performed seven surgeries in five days and conducted two and a half days of training seminars.
“This training and gift now open the doors to these extremely talented Vietnamese surgeons to perform state-of-the-art surgery and life-transforming surgery to thousands of patients over the years,” remarked Dr. Craig Merrell, leader of the reconstructive surgery team and president of the Chesapeake Virginia Stake.
“Just to see these patients with smiles on their faces, to see them able to walk or shake your hand, brings to your heart a good, warm feeling. That feeling comes from serving and helping other people.”
As the first General Authority to visit Vietnam since the war ended in 1975, Elder Lybbert met with several of the country’s top government officials.
“I had a very good conversation with the minister of foreign relations and religious affairs,” he said. “The meeting gave us an opportunity to correct some misinformation and establish a contact there. We’ve been invited back.”