With a calculated defiance of gravity we ascend above the unknowing sprawl of Cite de Soliel in a 200 million dollar alien vehicle. A diet coke is offered in a climate controlled cabin, while below people sell charcoal in the oppressive heat of Port au Prince. The Boeing 767, a symbol of American technology and wealth, transports people in possession of the small blue book back to a land where it is largely unknown that the price of a latte exceeds the average daily income of nearly half the world’s population.
Many stories could be told, but I want to tell you in particular about Mozoule. Her nursing education was abruptly ended on that Tuesday afternoon January 12, 2010 as she found herself trapped between two dead bodies on the third floor of the collapsed nursing school where several hundred students perished. Unconscious for an unknown period of time she was left for dead by rescuers who assumed she would not survive. Some time later, struggling for life this 32 year old girl was pulled from the rubble and taken to an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hospital where she was treated for a large thigh wound that had been pierced by rebar. Although this wound eventually healed, she continued to have severe back pain. Some months later she presented to Hôpital Adventiste with a T12 burst fracture and severe kyphosis (hunchback). Luckily no neurologic injury had been sustained, however the pain was so severe that she was not able to walk without crutches or perform many activities of daily living. On each of several previous trips she presented to me with this painful spinal deformity. Other visiting doctors had written prescriptions for fancy studies and medications that she could not afford with notes indicating that surgery for this problem was not possible in Port au Prince.
|Lucia and Andy|
|Jon Allen and Bonhomme transport post op patient|
|Mick O'brien Depuy Spine|
|Martin De La Huerta neuromonitoring technician from LLU monitors spinal cord function during the case|
|Both motor and sensory (MEP and SSEP) tracts are monitored|
|Implants and instruments generously donated by Depuy Spine|
|Correction of kyphotic deformity with pedicle subtraction osteotomy|
|Mozoule on post op day 2|
|4 year old girl with knee deformity|
|Edward going in for clubfoot surgery|
|Howard and Jeanne Place|
|Lucia and Dan|
This story is just a representation of the challenges, emotions, and blessings that we all experienced this week. There is not time to tell all the stories nor to tell about the amazing contribution of each team member. However, I just want to mention Jeanne Place and Dan Malave who worked tirelessly with the patients after surgery. It was not just their hard work, but their enthusiasm and compassion that made them especially popular with the patients and staff and impacted our entire team.