UAMS’ Ruth Thomas, M.D., Performs Surgery in Vietnam With Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Team

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Ruth Thomas, M.D., professor of orthopaedics in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine, recently returned from two weeks of operating on Vietnamese adults and children as part of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society’s Outreach & Education Foundation Vietnam project.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit to Vietnam,” Thomas said. “The Vietnamese people are open and friendly. The patients and their families are extremely appreciative. The children tug at your heartstrings and their stoicism will make you cry.

“The challenges were exciting and the immediate results rewarding,” Thomas said. “I felt accepted and welcomed by all the Vietnamese surgeons involved with this project. We learned from each other and I would be happy to return.”

In its fifth year, this humanitarian project is sponsored jointly with the Seattle-based Prosthetics Outreach Foundation.

Working with both Vietnamese and AOFAS surgeons on the team for her third year, Thomas performed surgeries in Vinh City, south of Hanoi and Ba Vi and Thai Nguyen, both north of Hanoi, as well as working with Vietnamese orthopaedic residents at Viet Duc Hospital, the major teaching hospital in Hanoi.

Along with the many operations performed, the orthopaedic surgeons presented at the Fourth Annual American Vietnamese Seminar on Surgery of the Lower Extremity on May 27 in Hanoi. The seminar provided local doctors with information on surgical and rehabilitative techniques. It was sponsored by a joint venture of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, the Prosthetic Outreach Foundation and the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and was attended by about 180 Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons. It included presentations by both Vietnamese surgeons and representatives of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

The team of six AOFAS orthopaedic surgeons comprising this year’s Viet Nam outreach project is from the United States and Israel, reflecting the international composition of the AOFAS membership. This remarkable program provides much needed corrective surgery to patients with lower limb deformities due to polio, cerebral palsy, club foot, injury and amputation.

With the close of this year’s trip, more than 300 Vietnamese patients will have benefited from the surgeries over the past five years. Due to cost, most of these patients would not have received care and corrective surgery. Prosthetics Outreach Foundation provides free of charge the prosthesis to patients treated in this program allowing many of these young children, women and men to return to society able to care for themselves and their families.


The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers, creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, and provides leadership and serves as a resource for governmental, industry and the national and international health care community. The Outreach and Education Fund supports, promotes and executes the mission of the AOFAS in advancing education, research, and humanitarian endeavors.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 9,300 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.5 billion a year. For more information, visit