UPDATED : 08/08/2013 11:57 GMT + 7
Dr. Nguyen The Hoang, who has been internationally recognized for his pioneering work in organ regeneration, is hopeful that the cutting-edge technique will soon be widely adopted in the country.
Hoang, vice head of the Hanoi-based Military 108 Hospital’s Orthopedics Institute, possesses a persuasive power though his ideas may sound shocking at first.
Hoang’s sole patient so far, Tran Dac Lam, was treated for three years from 2004 with his new organ regeneration technique.
Back then, one of 19-year-old Lam’s legs was 12 cm shorter than the other as a result of an accident when he was 7, and he had to walk on crutches during the following 12 years. All his muscles, skin and nerves from his knees down to his ankles were seriously deformed.
Having undergone more than 10 operations, clinging onto a glimmer of hope, Lam, who then faced calf amputation, came to seek help from Dr. Hoang to try his luck.
Seeing that Lam can be spared from amputation, Hoang and his team decided to adopt the new technique on him, to hopefully restore his damaged parts.
Hoang said he and his team made Lam a regenerated flap by taking a 35×20cm area of muscles and skin from his abdomen and applying it onto his calves to optimize their function and appearance before lengthening his shortened leg by fixing the bones and expanding the skin area.
“The 3-year treatment and the landmark operation gave Lam two balanced legs and the almost full mobility and function,” Dr. Hoang noted.
However, Hoang pointed out that though his innovative operation and techniques were announced on American scientific journals and recognized by the international community as the first application in the world, which can be adopted to treat the after-effects of burns, traumas and birth defects, Lam remains the only case in the world to be treated with the techniques so far.
For his cutting-edge techniques in his groundbreaking project of culturing cells, regenerating flaps and fixing blood circulation in the flaps to create self-sustained living tissues and replace patients’ damaged or failed organs, Dr. Hoang was conferred the much-coveted Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award given away by German’s Humboldt Foundation in March 2013. The awards are granted annually to recognize scientists’ groundbreaking achievements with a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work.
In his speech at the award-granting ceremony in Bamberg, Germany, Prof. H. Schwarz, the foundation president, remarked that Dr. Hoang’s project opens up huge potential applications in almost all modern medical disciplines as well as regenerative medicine and minimizes risks of transplant rejection, or contraction of contagious diseases from donors.
With such groundbreaking project, the possibility of creating parts of human bodies and even vital organs will no longer be a distant future, Schwarz stressed.
One of the four Asians and the first Vietnamese to be honored with the award, Hoang received 45,000 Euro, and was invited to spend one year cooperating on a long-term research project with his counterparts in Germany.
Graduating from the military medical institute in 1987, Hoang earned a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service in 1994 to pursue a doctorate degree at Rechts der Isar Hospital run by the University of Munich.
Prior to the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, the doctor had also been honored with scores of national and international accolades including the Johann Nepomuk von Nussbaum Research Award from the German Surgical Society in 1999.
Lam’s treatment is part of his prize-winning project on regenerative medicine and surgery which Dr. Hoang has been dedicated to over the past 15 years.
Dr. Hoang is full of hope that the techniques will gain a firm footing and have wide applications in local medicine.