From Tragic Beginnings To Smiles In Vietnam
When Dr. Dau started as a Smile Train partner, he knew children with clefts were often abandoned or put in orphanages. As an orphan himself, he comes to work each day determined that no other child should experience that pain.
Nguyen Van Dau tragically lost his mother and father at a young age. His father passed away in the chaos of the Vietnam War, while his mother died from improper treatment for her high blood pressure. Forced to live in an orphanage, Nguyen forged his way forward with a single-minded objective: to become a talented doctor in order to save lives and prevent other children from experiencing the same pain he had to endure.
After years of hard work and dedication, Nguyen defied the odds of his humble beginnings and became one of the most respected plastic surgeons in southern Vietnam. He was promoted to the head of the Maxillofacial and Plastic Surgery Department at Benh Vien Nhi Dong 1 (Pediatric Hospital #1) in Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2009, Smile Train Vietnam’s Country Manager Dzung T. Nguyen asked the respected plastic surgeon to become a Smile Train partner surgeon and help change the fates of poor children living with untreated clefts in Vietnam. Dr. Nguyen Van Dau recalled “I was aware of the fates of children born with clefts. In many cases, they are not accepted and are abandoned or given away to an orphanage — this is the main reason why I partnered with Smile Train to try and help.”
Dr. Dau and his team of cleft specialists, comprised of 11 plastic surgeons and 12 nurses, have become the leading partner for cleft surgery in the region. The team has performed more than 4,400 surgeries since 2009. The hospital also added comprehensive cleft care programs such as orthodontics, speech therapy, and maxillofacial orthopedics.
Dzung said the incredible impact that Dr. Dau and his team are having in Vietnam is quite apparent. Dzung stated “When we first started working together, many of the children receiving Smile Train sponsored cleft surgery were older, but now more than 85% are at most one year old. Dr. Dau is a true #SmileMaker. His dedication has led to thousands of new smiles and he’s been able to reach his goal of protecting children from experiencing life in an orphanage.”