MACON – Mercer University Distinguished University Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Ha Van Vo received the Healthcare Hero award on Sept. 8 from the Vietnamese American Healthcare Professional Association of Georgia (VAHPAG).
VAHPAG gathered in the Atlanta History Center to honor Dr. Vo with the award for his work with amputees through Mercer On Mission’s Vietnam prosthetics program.
Dr. Vo, who also serves as an associate research scientist in the School of Medicine, has done groundbreaking work in designing and deploying low-cost artificial limbs in third-world countries, including his native Vietnam.
He and University Minister and Dean of Chapel Dr. Craig McMahan have organized Mercer On Mission trips to Vietnam since 2009.
On the first trip, a team of Mercer faculty and students fit about 38 people in the town of Phung Hiep. This summer, 10 years after that inaugural trip, representatives from the University fit the 10,000th Vietnamese amputee with Dr. Vo’s patented leg prosthetic.
“We are proud of the impactful work conducted by Dr. Vo and are delighted that he is recognized as a Healthcare Hero,” said Dr. Laura Lackey, dean of Mercer’s School of Engineering.
Dr. Vo grew up in South Vietnam hoping to someday make a difference in his home country for his fellow citizens who lost limbs as a result of land mines remaining from the Vietnam War. Today, it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 amputees in the country.
Mercer On Mission operates clinics in four locations around the country and trains local doctors and technicians to fit the prosthetic year-round in the absence of Dr. Vo and his team.
In addition to more than a dozen trips to Vietnam, the program has made one trip to Haiti following that country’s devastating earthquake in 2010. The United Nations and other international agencies have had discussions with the University about expanding the program into other countries.
Furthermore, Mercer On Mission has been recognized by former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative for the program’s efforts to help amputees in Vietnam and other developing nations as “as an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge.”
VAHPAG seeks to coordinate efforts of Vietnamese-American healthcare professionals in Georgia to address the healthcare needs of the community. The organization provides student scholarships and professional healthcare services to local communities though health fairs, discussing health topics at media events, and mentoring future Vietnamese-American healthcare providers.
About Mercer University School of Engineering
Mercer University’s School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top three master’s-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Power, Siemens and Gulfstream Aerospace.