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Rotarians provide for complex medical treatment to rural children

Journey to the Heart of Europe

Rotarians provide for complex medical treatment to rural children

Martin Brands
Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard

Chiang Mai and Mae Sot_ Rotarians from the Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard, including President Steve Ryser, his wife Rotarian Toy and Project Manager, Charter President Martin Brands, the project manager travelled to Chiang Mai from June 14 - 16 to visit several patients that were being treated or were being prepared for treatment at Chiang Mai’s Maharaj Nakorn Hospital & Medical School.
The US$63,000 (Baht 2.3 million) project provides for complex medical treatment to seventeen children. Out of fifteen children from the Mae Sot region, thirteen require heart surgery, and two require reconstruction surgery to their digestive tracts. One child needs extensive cranio-facial surgery and one is in urgent need of treatment for burns, all of whom also require extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Funds for these projects came through the Matching Grants programme of the Rotary Foundation.

Toy and Steve presented fruits for the kids to the Supervisor of the shelter, whilst the younger kids also received a teddy bear and the older ones a set of books and pens.

Kanchana Thornton, our Medical Partner from Mae Sot, who prepares and coordinates the treatment for fifteen of the seventeen patients, arrived the day before with a minibus full of kids and their mothers. She makes such trips almost every two weeks. On arrival we met seven of the patients and their mothers, five in the shelter and two in the hospital. We met about 20 of the little kids who have now become known as “Kanchana’s Children.”
We proceeded to the shelter, which provides a place to stay for the patients when they arrive from their home in the remote areas of Thailand.
There they are ‘prepared’ for hospitalisation. Their ‘in-patient’ stay at the hospital is seldom longer than 1 week, even for cardiac surgery patients. Their transformation from a very sick child to a normal healthy child is almost immediate and a real medical miracle! After leaving the hospital they stay for another few weeks at the shelter to monitor progress and to make them strong enough to return home safely. After their return home they need to come back to the hospital for quarterly or half-yearly check-ups.
Later that afternoon went to the Chiang Mai Maharaj Nakorn Hospital & Medical School, which is situated in a huge complex. With over 2,000 beds, this hospital is comparable to the finest hospitals in Bangkok, such as the Siriraj Hospital & Medical School, Ramathibodi Hospital & Medical Faculty, where their cranio-facial patient would be treated and the Chulalongkorn Hospital & Medical School, where the burns patient would receive treatment.
We were greeted at the Paediatrics Department by seven children and their caretakers of whom two of them are supported by our project. Thanks to funds provided for medication and food supplements they are now strong enough to receive cardiac surgery in the very near future.

Twelve young patients of which five are from our MG project. Notice that three others have a facial tumour; they are helped by gifts from The Operation Smile Foundation in Thailand

She was scheduled to receive Tetralogy of Fallot surgery on June 15 but this had to be rescheduled as the Cardiac Surgeon (a professor) unexpectedly had to attend other business. She will now receive her surgery on or around June 22, as will another one of their young patients.
We spoke with Cardiologist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rekwan Sittiwangkul of the Department of Paediatrics and thanked her and the Cardiac surgery team for the outstanding work they do. We noticed that in the back of her crowded office, there were 2 Echoscopy units actively in use, forcing our visit to be brief. She mentioned that Chiang Mai Hospital is looking for some Baht 2.5 million (around Euro 55,000/US$ 73,500) to buy a portable Echoscopy unit for use in remote locations such as in the hill-tribe areas.
It seemed to us that Chiang Mai Hospital was the ideal setting to thank Kanchana Thornton on behalf of The Rotary Foundation and our Sponsors for all the dedicated and often difficult work she does for patients from the Mae Sot area. We presented her with a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s most valuable award of recognition given to a person who vigorously works for the good of mankind.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rekwan and a specialist from Mae Sot Hospital visited Chiang Mai to learn more about Echoscopy. Echograms are a perfect tool to discover heart (and other) problems at an early stage.

Kanchana, born in Thailand but raised and married in Australia, lives in Mae Sot with her husband, a writer and journalist. She is tireless in her efforts to help children that are in need of complex medical treatment. Very charming, but at the same time very purpose-driven, she does not easily take ‘no’ for an answer! Steve, Toy and Martin expressed their admiration and felt a sense of honour and privilege to have met her and to present her with Rotary’s most distinguished recognition she so truly deserves for her fantastic work!
On my way up to Chiang Mai, I made a detour and drove to Mae Sot in Tak province to review the current status of Thongchai Muhamed, a 15-year old mentally handicapped boy who walked into an open fire last October and suffered severe burns to his chest and knees. He has been hospitalised since the accident. After four skin transplants, his condition has visibly improved but more work needs to be done in two main areas. First, there remain two ‘open wound’ surfaces. As General Surgeon Dr. Somsak of Mae Sot Hospital mentioned, skin graft options for this are limited. A burn specialist contacted after our visit confirmed that skin graft is the only proper method. This means a further hospitalisation until end of this year.

A visibly pleased Kanchana with her new Paul Harris Fellowship

Secondly, and even more important, he needs rehabilitation through physical therapy (PT) to eliminate the contracture of legs and arms, caused (over time) by the burns. He receives PT, but only tolerates minor efforts as they cause considerable pain. As we have seen in other burns cases, PT is not too much of a problem for a mentally healthy and motivated patient, but for Thongchai this could be too much of a burden. A second specialist contacted after our visit confirmed that very small PT steps are the only option. If this approach fails then – as feared by Dr Somsak – he may not be able to walk again. Another concern is that he is still very thin, notwithstanding a high protein diet and supplements. This will hopefully improve after all the wounds have healed.
Thanks to funds raised by our Honorary Members Aad and Witha Scholtes, and in particular a very generous gift from Mr. Wim Scherrenberg of Stichting Hukino, Thongchai receives the best possible treatment.
Back in Chiang Mai, we looked into the case of Wang, a 3-year old boy with quite large (but fully healed) burns scars on one of his arms. The Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon recommended not to open the old wounds but instead use ointment that will ‘soften’ the scars over time. Helping children in need is one of the best things we can do in life. We really are very priviliged to be able to do this wonderful work with the help of our sponsors, The Rotary Foundation, our Medical Partners the doctors, nurses, volunteers and kind hearted and dedicated Rotarians!
This is a joint effort of many, and all of us receive enormous satisfaction in return! On behalf of our patients, their parents and the Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard, we thank all of you!
Special thanks go to our fantastic Sponsors: Jan & Renee de Vaan (Main Sponsors of MG 61544), Wim Scherrenberg, Aad & Witha Scholtes, the Rotary Club Pijnacker-Nootdorp and Rotary International District 1600, all from The Netherlands. Without your great financial and moral support we could not have these wonderful projects!
We also thank Kanchana and our Medical Partner from Mae Sot for taking such good care of the needs of 15 of our patients, the Medical Team of Chulalongkorn Hospital headed by Dr Apichai for taking care of our burns patient, the Medical Team of Ramathibodi Hospital headed by Dr Chalermphong for taking care of our cranio-facial patient, and (not related to this MG Project, but nonetheless important) Dr Kanoknart, Dr Somchet and Dr Somsak and their team at Mae Sot Hospital who, together with our friends of The Operation Smile Foundation in Thailand, take care of Thongchai!

The baby seen here with her mother and new teddy bear, is the first in line for cardiac surgery.

Journey to the Heart of Europe

Germany’s wine regions present their best side

Elfi Seitz
Roll on the glorious Deutsche-summer. The German-Thai Chamber of Commerce (GTCC), LTU and Mercedes were joined by some of the very best hotels and wineries in Germany, in generously sponsoring a group of journalists from leading newspapers and magazines in Thailand on a journey through Germany. It was all celebratory bubbles at Suvanabhummi as GTCC deputy chairman Stefan Bürkle and LTU regional manager Markus Moschner spoke fond words of farewell to the assembled, fine champagne an ideal lubricant for excited and expectant ‘journos’.

This pretty Fraulein dressed in her traditional attire at the ‘Roter Ochsen’ made us feel quite at home.
‘Business class’ really was the business. It’s been some time since I felt so completely and ruthlessly pampered by the prettiest team of stewards and stewardesses imaginable. They had even prepared a cake, which was served just before landing to thank the journalists for making the trip. We should have been thanking them!
The visionaries behind what was already ‘Wunderbar’, Dr Raimund Cerny and his long-time spouse Linda Dierolf, veritably beamed as the group was welcomed at the VIP lounge of the hugely impressive Munich airport. This trip had been months in the planning and its faultless execution was typical of Dr. Raymond’s and Linda’s attention to detail. Enter a very spacious Mercedes van to whisk us off across the brilliantly green Bavarian countryside towards Heilbronn. Partly on federal highways, sometimes on the bulging “Autobahn”, what an adventure we had, the thrill of the new driving adrenalin through our souls. For most, it was their first trip to Germany, a chance then, for the “insiders” to inform their virgin colleagues about the country’s rich and varied history and the many tremendous Teutonic tourist attractions.
The “Wald & Schlosshotel” in Friedrichsruhe/Zweiflingen was a marvelous house in which to gently move down a gear or two and adopt a generally semi-recumbent posture. But two nights was never going to be enough – I was overcome by a sense of never wanting to move more than ten yards in any direction – so utterly splendid was the level of hospitality. Field trips filled our days and easy conversations melted time into memory.

A traditional German farmer’s home, just like in the fairy tales.
One wonderfully summer’s day, we headed for Schwäbisch Hall and the “Würth” art museum and took in a dreamy vista over a city bathing in the sun’s warmth. They certainly know how to look after their museums. The open land museum in Wackershofen provided a cultural insight into the extraordinary variety of regional lifestyles that have evolved over the centuries. Abundant imbibement of a very dark and mellow kind followed, encouraged down with freshly slaughtered pork, sauerkraut and Bavarian fayre from the land of fantasy. The museum-owned restaurant “Zum Roten Ochsen” is one I intend to return to at my earliest convenience. I hardly noticed how quickly we were being swept around the countryside. The small but exquisitely presented car museum within the courtyard of the mighty “Langenburg” castle, showed Germany at its very best; a sumptuous fusion of efficiency with aesthetics. Ah, but how brief our sojourn at the “Automuseum”. What would a trip like this be, without the pre-requisite wine-tasting? An academic interest of course, was our prime motivation, as we gathered at the national research institute for fruit and wine growing in Weinsberg. Here, Thailand’s very own Prayut Piangbunta has fermented valuable viniculture experience into a profitable wine-growing estate, producing bottled nectar. Rolf Hauser was our wine guru as he guided as sensitively through selected wines, cellars and the innovative and ultimately satisfying vintner’s process.

Out tour leader, Dr Raimund Cerny, left, and Rolf Hauser say ‘prost’ to the success of our adventure.
The Grantschen winery and wine cellars proved another welcome attraction. This palatial pile belongs to the family of Baden-Württemberg’s local and much loved Statesman, Richard Drautz. German hospitality at its very best ensued; Mr. and Mrs. Drautz charmed us as we dined beneath a dome dazzling in its brilliance. The atmosphere was celestial. Government Secretary Drautz described how pleased he was to welcome so many guests from Thailand to the country at the heart of Europe. “Germany and its wine regions in particular, are always worth a visit”, he said. I had to agree. “We offer the highest quality service, genuine kindness and may I say, some excellent use of the English language.” I couldn’t disagree. “This enables us to make the stay a most pleasant one for our guests.” Here, here. Afternoons and evening were packed with press conferences but another wine region managed to sneak into our itinerary. But, free of additives, German wines seem to be hangover-free; all things in moderation, of course.

Government secretary Richard Drautz, Dr Cerny and cellar master Fritz Herold from the Grantschen winery.
Appropriately located on ‘Daimler Street’, Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach was for me personally, one of the highlights. So whilst getting your vintage Mercedes fixed up in Thailand might not be quite like munching into a Black Forest Gateaux, a waltz through the factory here left me frankly, gob-smacked. Director Gerd-Udo Hauser gave us the VIP treatment and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t the only female who found the Mercedes experience on the seductive side of the street. Subsequently, we visited the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart. It was simply amazing to see how Germany’s number one car has developed over time.
A farewell dinner at the Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe lovingly created by chef and author Lothar Eiermann, was a fitting way to finish the first leg of the trip. Exhausted, we fell in our dreams easily, in the knowledge that tomorrow would introduce more of this glorious country to our senses. More wine, I thought, more sights, I mused, more fun, most definitely.
To be continued - with more stories about Germany’s most inviting cultural sites and – of course – the wineries and vineyards.

(L to R) Peerawat “Pop” Jariyasombat from “Bangkok Post”, Weerayut “Neung” Chokchaimadon from “The Nation”, Jeerawan “Toom” Duangnam from “Lifestyle & Travel”, GTCC deputy chairman Stefan Bürkle, Rungnapa Leechaianan from LTU, Sid Sehgal from “Lookeast”, Jarubhani “Pam” Palarit from LTU, Don Ross from “TTR weekly” and LTU regional manager Markus Moschner who came to wish us Bon Voyage.

Gerd-Udo Hauser (2nd left) kept us spellbound with his explanation of the history of the legendary Mercedes Benz.