Saturday, October 4, 2008

September 2008 Haiti Trip 14

With needs more desperate than ever, the Haitian people once again inspired us to set our own corporal desires aside. We worked day night to relieve just a small portion of their pain and suffering. Making a difference one life at a time we operated on 46 patients with a variety of complex problems. In spite of a broken down infrastructure, lack of electricity, and fuel we were able work around these obstacles and treat more patients than on any previous trip. I was privileged to have along with me two of my mentors Dr. Terry Dietrich a devoted mission doctor responsible for my original introduction to the Dominican Republic and also Dr. Doug Benson from northern California.

Each and every one of these patients came with a special story. There was the man with an external fixator on his leg which had become infected after having navigated the floodwaters of Gonaive. He was accompanied only by his 7 year old son. There was the 11 year old boy who had lost most of his leg due to the brutaine traction methods used by the local doctors for a simple femur fracture. Then there was Presler (pictured) a sweet natured 16 year old boy intentionally burned 3 months ago by his father, for not listening to him. His neck shoulder and elbow had all become severely contracted leaving him with a monster like appearance. Due to providential circumstance, Dr. Duncan Miles (Loma Linda University Plastic Surgeon) was able to come to Haiti for one day to help us with this case. Tuesday night he performed a sophisticated latisimus dorsi rotational flap and z-plasty to complete the first stage of several reconstructive procedures that will be needed. In spite of a painful operation the next day Presler smiled at us from under his mosquito net and said “thank you”. After doing several more cases the following morning, Dr. Miles flew home to Los Angeles leaving us an extra $200 to buy some more diesel for the generator so we could continue operating without delay.

Jean Role director of clubfoot Haiti was also able to join us after riding 4 buses and wading through 3 rivers to get to Cap Haitien coming from the capital. Nonetheless he showed up the next morning dressed for business with his shirt ironed and pants clean. We made significant progress with the Ponseti clubfoot program casting more than 25 feet and doing percutaneous tenotomies on 9 cases. With the help of Robbie Jackson significant strides were also made on the administration and documentation necessary for the success of this program.

There will be 2 new Haitian orthopaedic residents joining the Cap Haitien residency program. We have been asked to become an integral part of their training and possibly increase the frequency of our visits. Both of them have worked with us in the past and are motivated and responsible which is very encouraging as it will allow us to enhance our training program as well as the efficiency and quality of our work for the patients.

Click photo above to see more pictures from this trip.