The successful work of Deutsche Cleft Kinderhilfe e.V. for children with cleft lip and palate all over the world would not be possible without our network of helpers and supporters. In addition to the many local surgeons and other medical professionals in the partner countries, this network also includes volunteer supporters who support our local teams with their passion, their energy, and their specialist expertise. An intercultural exchange that is very valuable and enriching for both sides.
The work in our project country Vietnam has been accompanied since 2016 by the Munich doctors PD Dr. Dr Denys J. Loeffelbein and PD Dr. med. Daniel Lonic. In December 2022, after a break of three and a half years forced by the pandemic, the two were finally able to see their colleagues and friends in Vietnam again.
The anticipation of finally seeing everyone again is mixed with respect: many complicated cases that have accumulated during the forced break await them in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, our project locations. However, with the medical guidance of Prof. Lo from the renowned Chang Gung Craniofacial Center in Taiwan, this is no problem. The Chang Gung Craniofacial Center is a partner of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (NCF), our cooperation partner in the Vietnam project. Prof. Lo is the medical director of the cleft projects for NCF.
Our partner in Vietnam: The Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (NCF)
Thanks to our cooperation with the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (NCF) from Taiwan, we were able to greatly expand our aid project in Vietnam. In 2016, we opened a location in Ho Chi Minh City, and shortly afterwards, in summer 2019, we added a second joint project. Our partnership with NCF is characterized by the common understanding that a comprehensive and, above all, long-term treatment concept is crucial for sustainable therapeutic success. Under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Noordhoff, the founder of NCF, the Chang Gung Craniofacial Center in Taiwan has become a world leading treatment center. Our teams in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have access to this great expertise for targeted training and continuing education – a valuable resource. Pictured: (from left to right): Dr. Daniel Lonic (Munich), Prof. Lun-Jou Lo (Taiwan), Dr. Duong Minh Tung (Ho Chi Minh City), Dr. Dr. Denys Loeffelbein (Munich).
A special highlight for Daniel and Denys is the reunion with Dat. Dat was a victim of a poorly run aid mission in Vietnam as a young boy, during which presumably inexperienced doctors performed a botched palate operation on him. This had dramatic consequences. Dat could hardly speak, did not go to school out of shame. Only a complex operation could help him, which was not easy to organize in Vietnam. So we brought Dat and his mother Chi to Munich, where he received surgery from Daniel and Denys.
Today Dat is 14 years old. Since Dat still speaks very nasally, the team performs another surgery, which goes well. As a farewell gift, Dat receives a very special present: in memory of his exciting time in Munich four years ago, Daniel and Denys have brought him a jersey of the FC of Bayern Munich. Dat has grown into a young man over the past four years – but the jersey just still fits.
At the end of the work there is a happy result to show: the German-Vietnamese teams provided surgery to almost 60 cleft patients in the two cities. It was more than worth it: The children can now start a new life. After a turbulent week full of touching moments, before Denys and Daniel know it, it’s time to return home – from 26 degrees warm Southeast Asia back to wintry Germany. Our two project leaders are certain that they will continue to work to further develop the treatment of cleft patients in Vietnam. We are overjoyed.