Sunday, February 07, 2010


Our cousin is home from Haiti now. It seems like most of the teams go down for a week or at most two. I know of other teams going and hopefully this will continue for a long time. When you read the post below, you better understand why a week is about as much as a first worlder can take.

Another long, busy day in surgery full of fracture repairs and wound
debridement. The smell of the 3 week old wounds is overwhelming.
Poor sanitization conditions combined with long hot days spent in
crowded tents with little to no ventilation. Thank heavens for Vicks

I left the hospital around 8pm to return to camp. We now have running
water! I immediately headed straight for a shower, which really
consists of bathtub and garden hose pulled through the bathroom
window. It's freezing cold, but I can't wait to "come clean" of
today. I yell for someone outside to "turn on the hose!" and not
more than 2 minutes later hear a voice outside running down the alley
& coming toward the clinic. A nurse from the hospital pounds on the
door of the clinic for me to "come quick" to the hospital..."a stat c-
section". Still soaking wet, I throw on scrubs, call for Sandra (the
other anesthetist; & native Haitian), and we follow her back to the

We quickly gather whatever supplies we can find through all of the
mess of medical equipment just shipped in (thank you to all who
donated!). Turns out there are in fact 2 c-sections, but only one
surgeon. The most critical goes first: umbilical cord wrapped around
the baby's neck. Spinal block and within 4 minutes the baby is pulled
out, blue, completly limp, and lifeless. It was then that we realized
that there was no one available to take care of the baby, who is
cyanotic and silent. The surgeon continues to suture, while I leave
mom to help the baby ("patient abandonment" and illegal in the
US)...not to metion the fact that I know extremely little about labor
& delivery nursing! ...desparate times. Sandra takes over care of
mom, while I attempt to stimulate and suction the baby. Yes... I am
screaming for help the entire time. A Canadian ER doctor hears me
and comes to the rescue. Together we stimulate and suction large
amounts of aspirated meconium, and soon....crying. The most
beautiful sound in the world!

Sandra and I must quickly get ready for the 2nd c/sec. I wheel the
last newborn into the room with us. Again, there are so many things
wrong about the conditions we must work under, but we must just adapt
and adjust to what we have. There is no NICU. New babies and moms
get sent back outside to the yard (literally) just after delivering.
This baby was no where near stable enough to be left unattended.

Sandra & I were gettig ready to do a spinal block on the next mom when
a code was called on a baby that had been rushed into the hospital
from the "tent village". She just cried and pleaded (in Creole) to
help her baby. The infant was intubated and coded for over 20
minutes before time of death was called. I completely broke down. I
tried to hide behind my glasses ad mask as I cried right there on
front of everyone. It was unbearable. And even still, after
experiencing such heartache, I had to return to the OR to finish the
last c-section. I'm thankful I stayed. A difficult and cold as it
felt at the time, I needed a "happy ending". I got just that. One
loud, crying, healthy baby. As 2 new lives were brought into the
world tonight, one was taken away. A harsh and unjust life.

The hardest part about tonight was wondering and question to myself,
"what if?" ; "what if this baby had been in the US?". ...same baby,
same illness, only with better medical access. Would the outcome
have been the same?". I heavily doubt it. That's what makes it so
hard...wondering why some are so fortunate and priviledged, just by
the geographical location in which we have been born; while others are
born into nothing. It's just seems so unfair.


Rosie said...

Life is unfair, it always has been and there is nothing we can do about it, we can complain to God, but, it will do no good. We can never understand the mind of God. His ways are not our ways, we can say why was I born in a rich country, and not in a poor one, but even in America there are people that suffer dearly...but God knows, and He is in control, and He loves us regardles of where or which country we were born. He sent His son to die for ALL. People from every country in this world...disasters like this just makes some people pay more attention to happened in NY, 9/11/01...and it happens everytime there is a disaster. The concequences of this disasters we never really can predict, Haiti might be helped more because now a lot of people all over the world know about them, they can pray, send money, people, etc. Before, just a few knew there was a place calle Haiti, where people suffered dearly. I haven't been to Haiti, but my children have, they were there during the earthquake, their lives have been change forever, my son was so toched by the spirit of some of the people of Haiti, that after loosing everythin they could sing, in the middle of the night, under the stars because there is no place to be, covered with towels and old blankets given to them, because they had nothing, and yet there song was to God, the Hymn they chose, "How Great Thou Art". Could we do the same? Life is unfair we say, but at the end, when the Lord calls us all to His presence, who will have the greatest reward? He tells us, "Be faithfull until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Eternal life, life He can only give.

kalamazoo said...

I am a NICU nurse and myself and many other NICU nurses and neonatologists despirately want to offer our expertise in Haiti but have been unable to find a team that can work with infants specifically. We can offer care to pediatric patients also but neonatology is our expertise. Do you have any contacts that you know of who might want a team like this?