Ton That Tung's Livers

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Born in the early 20th century, the Vietnamese surgeon Ton That Tung received his medical education in French colonial Indochina at the fledgling l'Ecole de Médecine de Hanoi, the first indigenous medical school in Southeast Asia. The benefactor of a postgraduate position at the medical school, Ton That Tung subsequently obtained his surgical training at the Phù Doãn Hospital in Hanoi and concurrently developed a passion for the study of liver anatomy, pathology, and surgery. His contributions to an understanding of liver anatomy based on meticulous dissection of autopsy specimens antedated and rivaled later work by the famous Western anatomists Couinaud, Healey, Schroy, and others. Ton That Tung's contributions, however, were overshadowed by the intense national struggles of the Vietnamese to establish independent rule and self-governance from the French and by eventual alignment with eastern bloc Communist countries, thus isolating much of his work behind the “Iron Curtain” until well after the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, Ton That Tung remains a pioneer in liver anatomy and liver surgery. His commitment to surgical science and, more importantly, to the Vietnamese people stands as a tribute to the tireless pursuit of his ideals.

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