Doctor McKay McKinnon Returns to Vietnam to Treat Patients with Rare Tumours at FV Hospital

From 27th November to 1st December, Dr McKay McKinnon, a world-leading expert in complex tumour surgery and cranial reconstruction, visited FV Hospital to perform 11 surgeries on patients with nerve fiber tumours, mostly children supported by the Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund. These patients had been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to received surgery from a skilled doctor to correct their physical deformities and enable them to enjoy a better quality of life.”

Dr McKay McKinnon performs surgery at FV

Saving a child’s eyesight after three years of waiting

When giving birth to the second child, Ms Dinh Vu Thuy Nhung (Quang Nam province) never expected that her daughter, patient Nguyen Dinh Huyen Nhi, who was born in 2020, would face health issues: Nhi suffered from fibrous dysplasia in her right leg, a condition causing abnormal bone development which made it impossible for the leg to function properly. Additionally, her left eye had a growing nerve fiber tumour that was obscuring her vision.

In the past, Nhi’s eye suddenly bled abnormally, making Ms Nhung and her husband extremely worried. Despite seeking treatment in several major hospitals, they were not provided with definitive treatment options due to the complexity of these two conditions.

Luckily, an acquaintance introduced them to FV Hospital and The Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund. In 2020, baby Nhi received artificial bone grafts by Le Trong Phat, MD, PhD – Head of the Bone & Joint Centre Department at FV Hospital — to treat fibrous dysplasia. After four surgeries, Nhi could finally walk on her own.

Regarding the unusual nerve fiber tumour in Nhi’s eye, doctors at FV Hospital advised Ms Nhung and her husband that this condition could be treated by Dr McKay McKinnon, an expert in tumour surgery and reconstruction, and at handling rare and complicated cases. He is often likened to a miracle worker, travelling worldwide to treat unfortunate children with disabilities. Every year, he comes to Vietnam to perform surgeries for FV patients and children under the Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund. Once again, Ms Nhung couldn’t help but shed tears of joy upon learning that Nhi was on the list for surgery with Dr McKinnon: “I feel very happy that there’s a place willing to treat my child, and my child is being treated by a world-leading expert!’

However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr McKinnon’s plans to visit Vietnam were disrupted. Ms Nhung’s family anxiously waited until the end of November 2023 to receive news that the talented doctor would return to FV Hospital. Little Nhi was prioritised for examination and surgery because she was the youngest paediatric patient.

During Nhi’s examination, Dr McKinnon noticed that the nerve fiber tumour in her left eye caused the upper eyelid to droop and a part of the tumour extended into the eye socket, distorting its shape. Without surgery, Nhi’s left eye would face severe damage from the tumour.

Prof. McKinnon visits patient Nhi after the surgery

Dr McKinnon removed a portion of the tumour and reconstructed the eye socket floor and eyelid to restore visual function for the child and improve the aesthetics of her face. Following the surgery, the child appeared more relaxed. The most joyous aspect was preserving Huyen Nhi’s eyesight.

“After three years of waiting, my child has finally had their eyes treated by Dr McKinnon!” says Ms Nhung. “My biggest torment these past years has been bringing my child into this world without giving her a normal appearance and life… Seeing her able to walk again and her happy face after the operation has lightened my heart, and I am immensely grateful to the doctors at FV and Dr McKinnon.”

Facial reconstruction for the boy who endured over eight years of living with discrimination

Patient Le Quang Hao (living in Dak Lak) recently had a nerve fibre tumour removed from his cheek by Dr McKinnon during his recent visit to Vietnam. The surgery has opened up a brighter future for the 13-year-old boy.

Hao’s parents divorced when he was two, and he was raised by his grandmother. His father worked far away, leaving Hao’s grandmother, Ms Nguyen Thi Xuan, taking care for Hao alongside her two children affected by the aftermath of Agent Orange, making their life very challenging. At the age of five years, a nerve fibre tumour appeared, causing deformation to half of Hao’s face. School friends distanced themselves, fearing Hao’s illness might be contagious. The school made numerous announcements to encourage students not to discriminate against Hao; however, he remained isolated at school and spent all of his time with his grandparents after classes.

As Hao grew older, the tumour on his cheek grew larger, distorting his facial structure, causing difficulty in swallowing and impeding his speech. Concerned for her grandson, Ms Xuan sought treatment for Hao in various places. However, the tumour continued to grow, pulling down one side of his face. Recently, Hao experienced frequent headaches and nausea. Fortunately, Hao received assistance from the Children of Vietnam Charitable Fund to be treated by Dr McKinnon. After the surgery to remove the tumour, which covered almost half of his face, Hao can now close his mouth, eat, and speak normally again.

An FV doctor assists Dr McKinnon by re-examining Hao.

“After the surgery, the tumour has reduced by 70 to 80 per cent, and my grandchild’s face is gradually returning to normal. I am deeply grateful to Dr McKinnon and the doctors at FV who treated my grandchild. I hope that he will soon return to normalcy and no longer face discrimination from others,” joyfully shares Hao’s grandmother.

Many patients are still hoping for a ‘miracle’ from Dr McKinnon. 

Dr McKinnon’s return to Vietnam after nearly four years has been eagerly anticipated by patients and their parents. In addition to performing 11 surgeries, Dr McKinnon also examined dozens of other patients – individuals hoping for a life-changing transformation through the skilled hands of the esteemed surgeon.

Treating nerve fiber tumours is a challenging journey, often involving multiple surgeries for patients. Many children arrive at FV Hospital with severe conditions, complications from prior surgeries, or their tumours have caused significant damage to their eyes due to delayed treatment. In such cases, surgeries aim to improve facial aesthetics and partially restore eye function. Better outcomes are usually seen in patients who receive early treatment, like little Nhi.

With over 30 years of experience, Dr McKinnon is recognised as a world-leading expert in reconstructive surgery and maintains the utmost caution in every surgery, especially when operating on paediatric patients. “Performing surgery on children adds more pressure for me to ensure the surgery is done correctly and as optimally as possible, helping them achieve a normal life as expected by their parents and all of us,” shares Dr McKinnon.

Prof. McKinnon visits patients before come back home 

During periods at FV, what brings Dr McKinnon the most reassurance and satisfaction is the support and collaboration of the working team there, especially the surgical support team.

“At FV, my surgeries have always been smooth without encountering any obstacles. Particularly, FV has very promising doctors and surgical support team,” emphasises Dr McKinnon.

As one of the assisting surgeons for Dr McKinnon, Dr Tran Xuan Tiem from the General Surgery Department commented, “This is my first time working alongside Dr McKinnon. He is dedicated to every surgery, not missing even the smallest detail. What impresses me the most about him is his wholehearted dedication and empathy towards the patients, along with his exceptional preoperative and intraoperative assessment skills.”

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