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How Taiwan Medical Expertise Supports Global Health: A Case of Rebirth

2012/05/18 10:56:01

Taipei, May 18 (CNA))“I have two birthdays. One is the day I was born and the other is the day I came to in Taiwan, where I was given new hope.”

This was the short, heartfelt comment from Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai who came to Taiwan for medical treatment as a 28-year old Vietnamese patient struck with a rare aging disease that made her look like a 70-year old lady.

Under the guidance of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, TAITRA has long been dedicated to helping Taiwan’s medical industry step onto the global stage and attract international visitors. To create the Ms. Nguyen success required the teamwork of the Commercial Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chi Minh City and TAITRA’s overseas office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam-based Taiwanese Lai-yi business Group, Chien Chiao Healthy and Medical Service, and EVA Airways.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai began showing signs of Werner syndrome at the age of ten. But lacking the financial means to obtain medical assistance, her only option was the use of local herbs available in her home village. By the time she arrived in Taiwan, she looked and walked like a 70-year-old lady.

Accompanied by her younger brother, when the TAITRA staff and medical team went to pick them up at the airport, what they saw was not a pair of siblings, but a scene that more resembled a mother and son. The young lady who had been robbed of her youth had lost all hope for the future and appeared helpless and saddened. But her fate was about to change when the medical team at China Medical University Hospital, led by internationally acclaimed plastic surgeon Dr. Hung-Chi Chen re-created her appearance and gave her a new lease on life.

Dr. Chen explains that Ms. Nguyen suffered from Werner Syndrome, a rare hereditary condition associated with premature aging. Patients often begin to develop symptoms during puberty or early adulthood experiencing rapid organ aging and other age-related diseases. The medical team carefully evaluated Ms. Nguyen’s condition, identified her allergens and found that she had multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome, pulmonary fibrosis, and vascular atrophy. After receiving medical treatment and a sophisticated cranial operation, she is now free of vasculitis and her lung function has also seen substantial improvement. After recovery, she was also taught how to identify and avoid harmful environmental factors that can cause her health to deteriorate. The team will follow up on her case through overseas meetings with the assistance of Vietnamese researchers.

“Treatment of rare diseases is one of the most important ways for Taiwan’s medical industry to reach the world,” stated Cho Shih-Chao, Director General of the Bureau of Foreign Trade. “There are more people with rare or acute diseases in need of humanitarian support and medical help and hopes that through the press and help from MOEA and TAITRA, more opportunities can be provided to those in need to come to Taiwan, where medical expertise can build fresh hope.”

TAITRA President Mr. Yuen-Chuan Chao says that TAITRA has long been promoting medical tourism to Taiwan and the treatment of rare and acute diseases. Successful medical cases in these areas show that Taiwan’s medical care exceeds international standards and also highlights Taiwan’s humanitarian surgery. Mr. Chao is convinced that a humanitarian spirit and benevolence are the most valuable assets for internationally promoting Taiwan’s medical expertise. Ms. Nguyen’s case is a perfect example of a successful, international humanitarian medical effort. TAITRA aims to continue its commitment to promote Taiwan’s quality international medical services.

Shane Hsu, +886-2-2725-5200 #1938