These pages contain HIGHLY graphic pictures of actual operations and may not be suitable for younger viewers

Our Hospital in Phuoc Tuy

We had 1 operating room with 2 tables.

Our Medical Staff consisted of 1 Doctor and 3 Medics, a lab tech and Vietnamese personel.  Since we were mainly a training group and our wounded count was low, we had the opportunity to practice general medicine.  Although the term general medicine turned out to be a false title.  What I and others had seen and did, many doctors today would never see or do in their lifetime.  Because war doesn't care who it attacks, or how, we treated the old and the young, seeing things that were hard to believe.

To try and protect our troops, we had a deal with the local hotel and Mama San.  Every Monday I would go to the hotel and take a smear from each of the working women.  I brought the smears back to the lab and analyzed them for any STD's. If I found any, that woman would not work again until it was cleared up.  We provided the treatment free of charge.  It was no guarantee, but at least it lowered the risk factor for those who choose to use their services.

We also had open sick call every day for the locals.  In special cases we even provided free operations along with other lab services.  I had the opportunity to deliver a baby girl.  That in itself almost made the war worth it.  It was such a beautiful experience, to be the first to hold a new life, one of God's little miracles, to clean her eyes, mouth and nose before she was even fully out, to hear the first cry and cut the cord.  These words do not do justice to the miracle of childbirth.  It is too bad she had to be born in a war torn country.

Not all procedures went well.  I remember seeing a young woman in town.  She was a very pretty young woman.  She was married and had 2 children.  One day while cooking, the stove blew up.  She was brought to us with 3rd degree burns on most of her body.  We treated her as best we could.  She had very little good skin left to do grafts.  The grafts we could do, we did, and the rest of her body was covered in salve and bandages.  We were not equipped to handle burns of this magnitude and had no burn ward.  All we could do was to put her in a separate room and cover her bed with mosquito netting.  I would visit her at least 4 times a day to change her dressings.  She was visited by her family and friends who would bring her food and keep her company.  It looked as if she was going to make it. She would be scared for life but at least she would live.  I guess she asked for a mirror one day, because her friends brought one to her.  As I said earlier she was a pretty woman.  She took the mirror and looked into it seeing her disfigured face.  She began to cry.  From that day on her condition became worse.  No matter what I tried made no difference.  I think seeing her reflection in the mirror made her lose her will to live.  Four days later, she died.  I cried as much as her family, blaming myself for not having the knowledge to treat her.  Even though our one doctor said we did all that we could, it didnít make me feel any better.  That is one of the pitfalls of being Doc...I took it personally, even though it was out of my control.  I went to her funeral and cried even more....

Here is a picture of a baby that was brought to us for treatment.

The baby was running a very high temp and was anemic, due to a poor diet, no food.  A vein could not be found that didn't collapse, except in the skull.  The baby was given a unit of blood, antibiotics, and food.  The baby spent 3 days in our hospital and was released feeling fine.  Just a simple solution, but if the baby was not treated, death would have been a possibility.

This woman worked in our camp. She was responsible for filling the generators with gas and oiling the necessary parts. Her hand got caught in one of the generators, all but ripping her hand off. Here she is being prepared for a bone setting, tendon repair, and skin graft.

The skin needed for the graft was obtained from her thigh using what we nick-named the skin shaver.

At this point the skin graft is being sewn on. Unfortunately, the graft did not take. There was no tissue for the skin to adhere to. So we had to think of something else to do.

What we finally did was to cut a flap in her abdomen, do a skin graft on the inside, and sew her hand inside her abdomen.  This provided good blood flow and tissue for the hand to adhere to.  Just before I left Nam, we separated her hand and the results were positive.

After about a month her arm was ready to be separated from her abdomen.

More work had to be done, but at least she did not lose her hand.