HOI AN, Vietnam. – If you noticed Bruce Hamilton was missing from Channel 4's anchor desk, it's because he's in Vietnam documenting a trip by a group of local doctors helping children with facial deformities.
He arrived last week in Hoi An, which is about 30 kilometers south of Da Nang, a prominent staging area during the Vietnam war.
Bruce is staying in a quaint village with French roots and is traveling with a talented team of doctors, nurses and medical professionals from Jacksonville on a medical mission.
The mission of the trip is to help children who have been victimized by mother nature's mistakes.
The first patient is a baby who has a cleft palate. Dr Barry Steinberg is going to do a surgical origami and fix that.
The children receiving help have trouble eating and are often shunned in their villages because of their deformities.
The baby and the mother traveled from a mountain village 70 miles away to get to the team.
Another baby who made the trip with his father has eye problems. Not only is this a physical deformity, but it creates other issues - social, educational and vision, all which hopefully will be fixed thanks to the team and the surgery.
Bruce said one girl's smile lit up the room when the team was doing triage. She has a black spot on her face called a hairy nevus which is physically grotesque. She's made fun of and it could be cancerous. It's a congenital issue.
The talented group of medical professionals will fix that. They're gathered in Vietnam to triage, to decide which cases they can effectively handle.
It's an emotional process and they said they become sad, even distraught, when they have to turn children away.
Bruce and the team traveled 11,000 miles and over 36 hours to get there. Bruce will be with the team in Hoi An until the end of the week and Bruce said there will be some amazing stories to tell.
Channel 4 will update this story throughout the week, and when Bruce returns, he'll go more in depth, taking you inside the lives of the children and families and into the operation room. Bruce says the children tug at his heart strings, and it likely will for others who learn their stories.