Restoring Smiles Overseas Brings Smiles at Home
With the year winding down, two members of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery smile as they recall their best experience of 2000: their teaching and surgical mission to Hanoi, Vietnam, under the auspices of Operation Smile.
In fact, they'll face an unusual challenge during this holiday season trying to shop for gifts as meaningful as the restored smiles they gave to hundreds of Vietnamese children and adults, and the knowledge they passed on to physicians and students at Hanoi Medical School.
Third-year resident Daniel Taub, DDS, had already traveled four times to Vietnam with Operation Smile, a private, nonprofit volunteer medical services organization which provides reconstructive facial surgery and related health care to indigent children and young adults in developing countries and the United States while simultaneously educating and training physicians.
"On my first trip, I made lots of friends, and after returning home, I kept in touch with them by email," Dr. Taub says, explaining why he was eager to return.
"In telling me about his trips, Dan really sparked my interest," adds Department Chairman Robert J. Diecidue, DMD, MD, who joined Dr. Taub on this year's mission.
Treating Orphaned Children
During a busy week, Dr. Diecidue and Dr. Taub treated about 250 patients, including many orphaned children, for smile-inhibiting injuries to their teeth, mouths, jaws, craniums and other facial areas. Dr. Diecidue also gave lectures at the medical school on frontal sinus injuries, mandible fractures and bone grafting.
"It was a very emotional trip, and I was sad to leave," says Dr. Diecidue. "We were so well received that, just as Dan did a couple of years ago, I realized I needed to go back." In March, Dr. Diecidue and Dr. Taub will return with Operation Smile to Hanoi.
Operation Smile is already familiar to other physicians, employees and students at Jefferson who have volunteered for foreign missions or local screening clinics during the organization's 18-year history. For information about participating in any of Operation Smile's future programs, please call either Dr. Taub or Dr. Diecidue at 5-6215.