Music to their ears: From left, Liz Morehouse and Nisrine Kawa, MD, of the Wellman Center; Tran; Anderson; and Neera Nathan, MD, Department of Medicine

More than 100 guests enjoyed a night of classical music, laughter, Vietnamese food and a silent auction in the halls of the First Church in Boston on Dec. 14, 2019, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center (VAC).

Hosted by the MGH Department of Dermatology and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, the event raised more than $60,000 to support the continued training and development of the interventional radiology clinic in Ho Chi Minh City, and a second satellite VAC clinic in Da Nang – expanding access to medical care for children with disfiguring birthmarks throughout central Vietnam.

“The clinic has done an amazing job taking care of children on such a small yearly budget,” says Rox Anderson, MD, director of the Wellman Center. “It’s the most efficient laser center in operation.”

Since its inception a decade ago, the Vietnam VAC in Ho Chi Minh City remains the only state-of-the-art facility of its kind in Vietnam, home to more than 90 million people. Anderson and Thanh Nga Tran, MD, PhD, MGH Dermatology Department, are two of the founders of the clinics.

The group also helped abolish the use of radioactive phosphorus in the treatment of vascular anomalies and provides yearly trainings to Vietnamese physicians and medical staff about modern, safe and effective medical treatments for disfiguring birthmarks and other severe skin conditions in children. Since its inception, the center and its dedicated team of physicians have provided more than 15,000 children with free laser and medical treatments.

“What I have learned is to get off your chair and go do something,” Anderson says. “There is no greater thrill than knowing what you do makes an impact, to meet the people of Vietnam and help improve the quality of these kids’ lives. It’s a chance to fully express idealism and know that the world is a good place. That’s the value of being part of this clinic. It is an honor to contribute to this effort.”

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