It was an emotional evening at the seventh annual Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center (VAC) Classical Benefit Concert on Dec. 4, 2016, at the Goethe-Institut, Boston. The concert not only raised funds to treat children with disfiguring birthmarks in Vietnam, it also celebrated the memory of Samuel (Sammy) Fisher who died last summer at the age of 24 – a brilliant young musician and son of David Fisher, MD, chief of Dermatology, who has contributed his virtuoso cello playing at every concert since its inception. 

“Sammy was a talented classical cellist and jazz bassist who performed several times in the VAC benefit concerts,” says Claire Fisher, Sammy’s mother. “The evening featured beautiful melodies from Saint-Saëns to Bach to Shubert that commemorated the numerous ways Sammy made the world better, including for the children of Vietnam.” The night also included tributes from David Fisher and Martin Mihm, MD, director of the Melanoma Program.

More than 100 guests enjoyed Vietnamese delicacies, musical performances and a silent auction, raising more than $40,000 critical for the clinic’s continued operation. Proceeds from the concert are used directly for the treatment of children, supplies and maintenance of the clinic. 

“The most valuable lesson to me about this effort is to get off your chair and get out of your daily grind and go do something else,” said Rox Anderson, MD, director of the Wellman Center and a co-founder of  VAC. “There is no greater thrill than to know that what you do actually has an impact.”

The Vietnam VAC was founded in 2009 as a humanitarian medical collaboration between physicians from the MGH; Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Beckman Laser Institute, Irvine, Calif.; Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston; and the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Its mission is to provide much needed modern clinical care for children with disfiguring birthmarks and other severe skin conditions on a free, safe and effective basis.

Throughout the past six years, the VAC has transformed the lives of more than 5,000 young patients and expanded clinical operations to include modernizing dermatopathology and providing training in pediatric dermatology, pediatric anesthesiology and interventional radiology. The clinic is a humanitarian outreach of members of the Wellman Center and the Department of Dermatology.

“To directly get to know people and help these kids with their lives is a chance to fully express idealism and know that the world is a good place,” said Anderson. “That is the value of doing humanitarian work.”

Read more articles from the 01/13/17 Hotline issue.