Tuesday, April 8, 2008

March April 2008 Trip 12

Every time I return from Haiti I feel like reporting that it was our best trip ever. I am not sure if it is because each trip gets better or if it is just the ever present inspiration and excitement of working in Haiti. It is probably a combination of the two. Although in the big picture we are only making a small difference, we are making a big difference in many of the lives we touch. For us it may be only a one or two hour operation but for our patient it is a life changing event that affects them for their whole lifetime and hopefully beyond.

This trip was exceptional in that we had 12 team members which is the largest ever. Prior to the trip I feared that keeping everyone organized and busy in the chaotic work environment would be difficult. To the contrary each one of the following self-activated people played a special role, making it one of the easiest and most efficient trips ever. And most importantly the quality of our patient interactions and whole person care was unsurpassed.

  • Janet Castillo (RN CURE Santo Domingo)
  • Lucia Hernandez (RN CURE Santo Domingo)
  • Dra. Maria Adrian (MD anesthesia CURE Santo Domingo)
  • Dr. Scott Nelson (MD CURE Santo Domingo)
  • Dr. Dan Ruggles (DO Orthopaedic Resident, Riverside, CA)
  • Dra. Dielika Charlier (MD pediatrics, CURE Santo Domingo)
  • Dale Brantner (VP Spiritual Life CURE Home office)
  • Mike Wilson (Dir. Special Projects, Cross International, FL)
  • Robbie Jackson (CURE Clubfoot Worldwide, Dallas TX)
  • Jean Role (CURE Clubfoot Haiti)
  • Arpy Soo (Plumber, San Luis Obispo, CA)
  • Bernhard Ahrens (Architect, Santo Domingo)

No trip to Haiti begins or ends without some special stories to tell. Before we even reached Cap Haitian we were presented with our first patient. We typically stop for a late lunch at an elementary school run by the Bruno family before driving the last hour into Cap Haitien. It was there that several boys brought over there 3 month old injured puppy to see if we could do anything. The puppy had been attacked by a larger dog and broken her left hindleg. A local “veterinarian” had come and splinted the leg with some yucca leaves and wrapped a constrictive dressing. The leg lost its blood supply and eventually had fallen off leaving a stump of infected exposed bone. Anyone working in primitive countries knows that often times the treatments rendered are worse than the injuries. At least this time it was not a child and the pup had 3 other legs to run on. Nonetheless an operation needed to be done. I told Dra. Adrian that we had a 3 month old around the corner that needed an operation and to prepare some anesthesia. When she saw the furry little creature she was slightly surprised but did not bat an eye. The operation was successfully performed and 6 days later on our way home we made a post op visit. The pup was running around and the children were delighted that she was no longer suffering.

We operated an additional 31 human patients on this trip as well. Many of them just as sweet and innocent as the canine. We only worked until 4:30 am one night and finished by 9 or 10 pm on the other days leaving, us less fatigued than some of our previous trips.

One notorious case was Rosebeline. She is a 10 year old girl crippled by severe bowlegs caused by a poorly understood growth disturbance in the legs called Blount’s disease. Some short term missionaries from California had met her on one of their previous trips and had been trying for a long time to find someone that could correct this. They heard about us and brought her. The next day after a two hour operation her legs were straight. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of people like David Bell inventorying donated Orthofix clamps in Lemoyne, our donors, our founders, Haitians, Dominicans, and Americans we were able to offer this girl a standard only available in some of the most advanced centers in the world.

Thanks to Dra. Charlier, Mike, and Dale we were able to have much more interaction and better communication with our patients. Dra. Charlier is our new pediatrician in Santo Domingo and is fluent in English, Spanish, Creole, and French. She worked tirelessly during this trip and made sure that all the pre and post op care was rendered as intended. Robbie and Jean Role were able to launch the northern Haiti clubfoot center and coordinate solutions to a number of the challenges facing the clubfoot program in Haiti. Berni and Arpy worked on the physical plant around the OR building. These challenges equally as great as those required to perform quality orthopaedic operations, but significant progress was made. Not only does this enhance our work there, but also leaves something behind that enhances the work of the local people.

Although our patients were still suffering pain from their injuries and operations, they expressed an impressive gratitude and love for us and for God, saying that God had sent us and thanking us for helping them.