Dr. Trinh Hong Son – The Natural ‘Healer’

Since Viet Duc Hospital is known as the place for training the 'golden hands' of Vietnam's surgical industry, Prof. Dr. People’s Doctor Trinh Hong Son (Deputy Director of Viet Duc Friendship Hospital) is the special golden hands.

Working at the Department of Oncology (Viet Duc Hospital), Dr. Son sees the pain, the hope, and sometimes the unfinished dream of cancer patients.

He is one of the few people that when we searched for information on social networks or in newspapers, there are stories about him that are shared by family members or even the patients who were treated by him. 


Prof. Dr. People’s Doctor Trinh Hong Son. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Dr. Trinh Hong Son speaks at the ceremony celebrating the 110th anniversary of Viet Duc Friendship Hospital. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang 

The leaders of Viet Duc Friendship Hospital at the ceremony celebrating the hospital's 110th anniversary. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang


Dr. Trinh Hong Son shares many stories about his medical career at an online seminar. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Dr. Trinh Hong Son and delegates pose for a photo at an online discussion on the topic of Organ donation and improving the efficiency of the diagnosis of brain death diagnosis at grassroots hospitals. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

One of them was the story of Lawyer Thai Bao Anh - Director of Bao & Partners Law Firm. He shared his story on his social media page. It was later quoted verbatim by newspapers. His mother had terminal cancer, with a 5% chance of survival. Then a miracle happened to her after an 8.5-hour surgery performed by Dr. Son.

That’s not all though. The conversations between the lawyer and Dr. Son during his journey to save his mother's life painted a vivid portrait of the medical ethics of a respected physician and the inexplicable things of this particular profession.

In the story told by the lawyer, Thai Bao Anh, Dr. Son said that the medical profession was too specialized. That’s why not everyone understands that doctors try their best. Therefore, when losing a loved one, everyone suffers, and when suffering, sometimes they blame the doctor. Dr. Son told him of these concerns because of the fear of being sued. This fear was not for himself. He said that in one day, he operated on several patients, all of which were as difficult as the lawyer’s mother, so if he sued, he would no longer have the energy to focus on the patient. His fear is for the patient, not for himself. The lawyer then rewrote the commitment paper that Dr. Son had previously written and told him to use it from now on. 

According to the lawyer, the commitment that Dr. Son gave him was written too simply. It would not be enough to protect the doctor against the tricks with words that people still use to harm each other.

Dr. Son also has a thing that he always does. Not only does he manually record meticulously the name, address, date of birth, occupation and the family situation of the patient, he also records the income of each patient to consider prescribing cheaper drugs while the effectiveness of treatment would still be effective.


According to Dr. Son, organ transplants include 4 steps, donor preparation, recipient preparation, technical manpower preparation, and post-transplant care monitoring. Currently, Vietnam has done quite well in three of these four. Only the process of preparing the donor remains weak. 


In the beginning, when organ donation was still a relatively new concept in Vietnam, Dr. Son was a lone man traveling this road. That's why he is ready to work hard anywhere, in any situation, including giving lectures or giving seminars. Dr. Son and his colleagues always carry an organ donation registration form with them. Still, there were days they left with few signatures, or sometimes none. He even wrote a book titled "organ transplantation and brain death" to improve the ability to diagnose brain deaths in hospital settings.

Dr. Trinh Hong Son performs a digestive surgery in the operating room of Viet Duc Friendship Hospital. Photo: Thanh Giang / VNP

Dr. Trinh Hong Son visits a newly operated patient. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Young doctors are taught by Dr. Trinh Hong Son by reading radiographs. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP


There was a time when Dr. Son wasn’t able to persuade anyone he met for organ donations, causing many people who did not understand fully to have a rude attitude towards him, blaming him for talking about bad luck. But Dr. Son remained steadfast. More than anyone, he knows every application is a chance to live. Organ transplantation does not only save lives but also significantly reduces the financial and mental burden on society.


Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh Thai, who was saved by Dr. Trinh Hong Son said that the mind and talent, two of the most beautiful words, were completely dedicated to the sick by Dr. Son.


Dr. Son is a leading expert in digestive surgery in Vietnam and an official member of the French Society of Surgeons. He has done much research on gastric cancer surgery, liver cancer and pancreatic cancer, which have become guidebooks for students and colleagues to refer to. Dr. Son has received many certificates of merit from the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health and the Third-class Labor Medal. The title of People's Teacher was also conferred on him. The title of Professor, majoring in Medicine was conferred on him in January 2015.


He is not only evaluated by experts as a person with "golden hands", but also praised by patients as a model of ‘a gentle-mother-like doctor’. Dr. Son is an extremely enthusiastic person when it comes to working. He is especially passionate in the field of gastrointestinal cancer surgery, such as liver, pancreatic, stomach cancer, and especially liver transplantation. He also succeeded in classifying anatomical changes of the biliary tract, portal vein and the hepatic vein. 


Dr. Son also succeeded in removing the pancreatic duodenal block, bringing life to hundreds of patients. He was the one who brought the Frey technique to remove pancreatic stones to Vietnam and deployed the technique of opening the common bile duct in the pancreas to solve the biliary obstruction, saving many lives.


He used to be Chief de clinique at Hautepiere Hospital, France and part-time Lecturer at Louis Pasteur University, France. In 2002, he received ‘Diplome d' assistant étranger’ from the University of Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France, based on two topics of liver anatomy applied in surgery./.


Story: Thao Vy Photos: Tran Thanh Giang Translated by Hong Hanh

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