Vietnam Vet Returns To Ho Chi Minh City To Launch Teaching Hospital For Disabled Childern
The head of a Christian humanitarian organization that establishes and operates teaching hospitals in developing countries, is traveling to Vietnam this week to make plans to establish a disabled children's hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. C. Scott Harrison, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and founder of Pennsylvania-based CURE International [www.cureinternational.org], is a Vietnam Veteran who was a captain and orthopedic surgeon on duty in Kwan Yan in 1966. "I was determined to one day help the children of Vietnam, and this will soon be accomplished," he said. Dr. Harrison said that CURE is close to acquiring a hotel in downtown Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) which will be transformed into a teaching hospital to help the disabled children of Vietnam.
CURE International, a Christian humanitarian interfaith organization, was founded in 1996 by Dr. Harrison to provide physical and spiritual healing to the world's neediest and poorest children. Harrison, a very successful orthopedic surgeon and CEO of Kirshner Medical Inc., channeled resources gained from the merger of Kirshner with Biomet, to launch CURE. "I long felt a calling from Christ to help the neediest disabled children of the world," and this was my opportunity to do it," he said.
CURE's hospital in the Dominican Republic opened in June 2003. In February, news that gained worldwide attention concerned Baby Rebeca, an infant born with the conjoined head of her undeveloped Siamese twin. The surgery took place at CURE International's hospital in Santo Domingo, and CURE underwrote the cost of the surgery. Though the surgery by an international team of surgeons was successful, the baby died hours later due to hemorrhaging. "The knowledge gained from that surgery, the first such attempt in medical history," said Dr. Harrison, "will help countless children in the future."
Last year, CURE also opened a children's hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "Within the next few weeks, $1.5 million in medical supplies is being shipped to our polyclinic in Kandahar," Dr. Harrison said. "This shipment will help treat 100,000 children."
In May, Dr. Harrison will be traveling to Kabul to make plans to launch a teaching hospital in the capital city. He will be visiting with the King of Afghanistan, President Karzai and the Minister of Health.
In Africa, CURE has launched the only teaching hospitals for children in Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. It is providing leading-edge treatment in those countries for two terrible deformities which plague children - spina bifida and hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Mrs. Janet Museveni, First Lady of Uganda, is co-chair of the CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda.
Currently, CURE has begun treating young patients in Honduras and is in the process of building a hospital in Soddo, Ethiopia.
In 2002, Dr. Harrison, along with film star Paul Newman and poet Maya Angelou, was given The Caring Institute's Award for compassionate, humanitarian service. In accepting the award, he said, "If you go out and try to find happiness, you probably won't find it. Whereas, if you're able to resign yourself to do what you're led by the Lord to do, you'll find the joy that far exceeds the happiness that you were looking for."
Dr. Harrison says his year in Vietnam was "one of the most difficult years of my life."
"I made a vow to myself and to God that I would one day help the children of Vietnam, and that's what we're now in the process of doing."