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Operation Childlife was established by the medical community in Ireland in 2007 to voluntarily provide developing countries with an opportunity to access paediatric surgical expertise which is provided on a voluntary basis by some of Ireland’s top medics.

The project began with an invitation from the Christina Noble Foundation, based in Ho Chi Minh City, to provide paediatric expertise for the local hospital. Following this request, Professor Martin Corbally visited Children’s Hospital #2 to establish the clinical and local contacts.

When both parties understood the requirements and were happy to proceed, Professor Corbally obtained approval from OLCHC hospital management to provide essential equipment and hotel costs and to secure time off. Part funding was also received from RCSI.

There are a number of significant benefits attached to Operation Childlife. While our team are performing their procedures they are observed and provide training to the indigenous medics who quickly learn how to carry out the same procedures thereafter. While our team performed over 100 heart operations in 2009-2010 the local surgeons under our guidance have been sufficiently trained to carry out over 70 similar procedures without our intervention.

In addition, our team have learnt from the overseas team and have brought new skills and procedures back to Ireland.

Although Vietnam was the first part of the journey and our work there will never be complete they are now sufficiently skilled locally to allow us to progress to other markets in need. In late 2010 we commenced operations in Tanzania and will offer support to Mongolia later this year.