Friday, January 22, 2010

Pat Update--Success on a helipcopter and they are "done" early

Time for your daily update from Haiti. It has been a day of interesting events. I'll start by saying we are all fine and felling good about how much we have accomplished.

We are closing out our time here in Haiti as it looks like we might be on a flight tomorrow thanks once again to Mission Flights International. We has planned on a flight on either Sat or Sunday but they said our best bet for getting on a flight was to go on Friday so that's what our plan is. That will get us to Miami and then it is anyone's guess when we will make it back.

Our team had some great success this week even though at times it has felt like there so much to do and that we could not even put a dent into a problem this big. One of the biggest things we did is showed the people of Haiti that there are people from everywhere that care for them. While walking through the poorest of the poor tent cities we were able to show them that they are not forgotten and hopefully that was in some way comforting to them.

While each person in our team at Matthew 25 has their own success story I would think this afternoon/evening will be the story I most take away from this trip. For the past three days we have had a 18 year old girl who was injured in the earthquake under our care at the Matthew 25 field hospital. In the chaos of the first days after the quake the extent of her injuries were not recognized and thus treated appropriately. When she arrived to us it was apparent that she had a serious injury with what I suspected was a baislar skull fracture with CSF leaking out her ear and multiple facial bone fractures. We knew the dirt soccer pitch was not the place for her. With no immediately available mode of transport we started her in IV antibiotics and planned on transferring her to a better equipped hospital in the morning. Well on the next afternoon we made our first attempt to get her to S.H. Hospital in town b/c we were told they had neurosurgery capabilities. After driving her across town we arrived to a front yard of hospital full of patients and families and immediately were turned away due to the fact they did not have any imaging ability and had no neurosurgeon.

We were told that we could leave her out front and "maybe things would change". At this point she pulled on my hand and said in English "I want my life". At that point we knew there was no way we were leaving her. We knew that she would simply be another waiting patient without anyone working on her behalf if we left her, thus we decided to bring her back to Matthew 25 field hospital where she would once again be sleeping on soccer field but she would continue to get IV antibiotics and we could continue to try to find her the appropriate place to be. The next morning we started again asking around for which hospitals had neurosurgery capabilities and were told maybe the French or Israeli hospitals.

So it was back in to the truck and through the most bumpy and dusty roads I have ever been on (think African dirt roads and make them more crowded and with the occasional building collapsed in to them). Well once again both facilities refused to accept her b/c they said there was nothing they could do for her and once more it was back to Matthew 25 field hospital.

Then when a friend of Dr. Toth and Barb Burk (both from Atlanta) arrived at Matthew 25 for a visit, we started talking about the difficulties we were having with finding her a place that would care for her, they asked how they could help. We knew what she needed was all available on the USS Comfort floating hospital but that we had no way to get her in the ship or even get word to the ship. Well they replied that they had a truck so they were willing to help us try. So we once more told her we had to load her up into truck and try she said "you keep saying that but we just keep coming back here".

We made our way to UN hospital which was actually Miami University and we quickly get out of truck and start asking around for help. Well everyone we talk to says that they feel for us but first off they are in midst of being moved to another location b/c the UN has decided they needed more space and b/c they were getting overcrowded. We were also told once more that they did not have neurosurgery but to take her to the French or Israeli hospitals.

At this point we are trying to get anyone that might help. We are frantically emailing and text people looking for anyone with connections to the media that maybe able to help. Messages go out in tweeter and Facebook along with a CNN iReport is posted in We are lucky enough to get a Dr. Josh (pediatric orthopedic surgeon from Columbia University) to join or texting search. He was able to track down a reporter from CBS who was able to get in touch with USS Comfort. Next thing I know they are asking for landing coordinates to bring us a Blackhawk helicopter.

As part we frantically run down UN compound looking for anyone who can help we meet a truck of UN peace keepers from Chili and we jump in back of their pickup and they drive two of us to UN headquarters where we are able to track down the coordinates and send them along out texting chain to the USS Comfort. We are told to get patient to UN runway ramp. We load patient back into truck (this time stealing a cot from Miami University) and get her to runway. We are in contact with UN person controlling landing space who continues to day he can land a helicopter here but he has not heard anything yet about a helicopter coming. We assured him we have been told that they are leaving the ship now as we continue to get text updates. It is now dusk and he warns us that they have no landing lights so this has to happen now if it is going to happen at all. While we are waiting patient tells us that her cousin is with her b/c they have lost everyone else in the earthquake. I don't think there is a dry eye amongst the team members with her. At this point we hear and see the blackhawk coming and when it lands we carry her out on to the runway on the cot where the Navy flight team meets us and package her up and fly her and her cousin off to the hospital ship. (see attached picture). From what we have been told, NPR picked up this story and ran it nationally.

Anyhow this is just one of the successes we were able to have. As we sat down and were finishing our last dinner with our host at Matthew 25 House the meal was interrupted by a non-earthquake related penile injury so our surgeons did one last dining room table surgery.

Lastnight we had a team Powwow and sort of talked about how we all have feelings of anger about how unfair it is that these people who have had such a difficult time surviving prior to earthquake now had even less. We were all impressed with the acts of kindness we have witnessed from the Haitian people and how this was so much different than the picture the media has been painting with riots.

Anyhow I can not type anymore. So this will be it

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