Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Initial Report Haiti June 2012

This is my 8th trip to Haiti since living on the hospital porch for the 6 months after the earthquake.  Sometimes intermittent visits can be quite encouraging since even slow progress can show dramatic improvements.  The volunteer housing has been upgraded to a bunk house on the front of the property, new air conditioners are cooling the operating room and considerable construction has been completed in the private and new pediatric wards.

New Private Ward


Each time I return I am again reminded of the importance of our long term presence here and the dire needs of our patients.  Several weeks ago I was emailed about a 14 year old girl who had fracture dislocation of her spine.  In addition to being paraplegic she was hardly able to sit up due to the severe angulation and pain in her spine.  Kati’s father died several years ago and then her mother was killed in the 2010 earthquake.  She was living with some relatives in a house that had been condemned due to earthquake damage when a wall fell on her last August.  Her friend was also in the house and suffered an amputation of her leg.  When her uncle found out that Kati was permanently paralyzed, he abandoned her at a local hospital.   An operation had been performed by a visiting doctor but this had only made the situation worse.  Fortunately some workers at a spinal cord rehab unit adopted her.  A recommendation had been made for her to go to the United States to have a surgery to straighten her spine, but they were grateful to hear that the same quality operation could be performed right here at Hôpital Adventiste.

Due to the severity of her deformity, the previous operation and the time since injury the spine straightening operation was somewhat of a formidable task.  Her preexisting paraplegia dramatically reduced the stress of the operation, and Lucia’s prayers were appreciated by all as we carefully mobilized the vena cava and aorta around the front of the spine in order to completely straighten her back. 
Spine fracture dislocation before surgery
Straight spine after surgery

Tonight, an 87 year old man who was in a car accident, arrived in our emergency room with an unstable tibia fracture and some severe lacerations that required an urgent operation.  We were able to treat him with a SIGN nail and we just finished at half past midnight.  We have an amazing team consisting of Alan Sull MD ortho resident from Loma Linda and Jeff Nepple MD ortho resident from St. Louis.  Tomorrow, Dr. Ian Alexander who is a foot and ankle specialist will be arriving.  Tim Gerke and Leah are ICU nurses from Portland who are still with our patient in recovery room.  And as usual Lucia and Maria came over from the Dominican Republic.