Saturday, January 23, 2010

News From Haiti

We've heard a great deal about the Haitian earthquake. There is incredible human suffering. The news in this post may just bring things home a bit and make things more personal.

A missionary mom's husband is a doctor and has volunteered to help the Haitians. Here is some news from her which she passed on to us:

Her name is Alice, and she writes:

January 22, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Here's the latest update from Mark following last night's phone call.

Yesterday was spent seeing patients in the morning at the clinic and trying to get the 12-year-old girl, Fedeline Mon Fleury, into a hospital so her burns could be treated 24-7.  Mark drove around for a couple of hours with the little girl, the girl's mom, and an LDS church leader in Haiti.  They went to the US embassy, a military facility, the UN (not sure what he meant by that except maybe it was the location of the United Nations presence in Haiti), and no one could help.  Finally they were referred to a US military hospital unit close to the airport and the doctors there agreed that she needed to be sent to Kings Hospital which is also close to the hospital.  Medical personnel from Medical Teams International (formerly called NW Medical Teams) which is headquartered in Portland, Oregon were helping to staff this hospital and doing a tremendous job.  So Fedeline can stay there but we don't know for how long and the doctors all agree that she needs to be treated for her severe burns in the U.S.

Here is her photo:

At the same time, I received an email here on our home computer from Dr. Rob Sheridan who is in Haiti with Partners in Health.  This is another great non-profit co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer whose story about his work in Haiti was documented in Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains.   Dr. Sheridan, critical care surgeon, who actually now works with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (not Galveston's Burn Unit), emailed us that if we can get Fedeline to Boston, they will take care of her and do the necessary surgeries and skin grafts that she needs.  So when Mark called I relayed this great news to him and he asked me to email Dr. Sheridan and ask him to visit Fedeline at King's Hospital.  The next step will be trying to get her to Boston and we have some leads on that.  I will know more when I talk to Mark tonight. Communication is complicated via satellilte phone, emails, etc.  I hope they can talk directly today.

At the same time, another severe aftershock hit and endangered the work going on at the Sacred Heart Hospital located close to LDS church/medical clinic where the team was seeing patients.  Many severely injured patients were laying around waiting to be seen at Sacred Heart. Can you imagine having a broken leg and not being seen for 10 days?  So Mark and others went there and moved the people who had femur fractures.  There were 13 of them with femur fractures and they carefully loaded them into 3 pickups and took them to a hospital that could see them.  If you have a femur fracture, you aren't going to be able to be walking the streets to find a hospital...    They had to leave the fibula and tibia fractures on the grounds of Sacred Heart. Some of the femur fracture patients were taken to the University Hospital and some were taken to the USNS Comfort, a US Navy ship that has a crew of 850 trained to provide 1000 hospital beds and 11 operating rooms.  This will make such a big difference.  If you want to know more about what the US is doing, open the attachment.  This was provided to me by Peggy Peirson, the Emergency Management director for our local county.

Mark shared that the name of the game right now is INFECTIONS, internal and external.  One woman he saw yesterday had a gash across her forehead which went down to the bone.  And on one side was an abcess of pus 1/2 the size of a baseball.  Mark's impressions continue to be that it looks like a bomb dropped on every street.  There are so many people with deep cuts filled with lots of dirt.  Every house seems to be built of concrete and that means that most of the living people in Port au Prince probably had concrete of some size fall on them.  He feels that the real savings of life now will be to keep people dying from infections.

I keep thinking about that young woman, volunteering at the clinic, who survived the earthquake.  She was sick when the earthquake hit and hadn't gone to her university class.  It crushed and killed her 80 fellow students and the professor.  Mark says that there are many college kids volunteering to help at the medical clinic because their university classes has stopped completely.  I'm wondering if there is a possibility that US universities would consider taking some of these college aged kids if homes were provided.  I know that this happened to Loyola students in New Orleans during Katrina.  This young woman told Mark that they would probably be out of school for 2 years while the university was rebuilt.  Any thoughts on this?  Haiti will need educated and trained individuals to help with the recovery and I hate seeing these youth get set back 2 years.

He and other members of the team are heading out to another city or town today that has not received much medical attention.  He commented about how teams from all over the world are working together- Israelis, Spaniards, Cubans, US Military, Mennonites, Argentinians, and others. That's wonderful and shows the human desire to do good. It's just sad that it takes a major catastrophe to bring people together.

Many of you have asked, what you can do.  Mark feels that what they need are specific supplies like sutures, antibiotics, pins and plates for fractures, casting material.  He said the best thing to do is to send money to a trusted cause.  We recommend the following:

LDS Humanitarian Services (the team Mark is with)
Healing Hands for Haiti  (Dr. Jeff Randle, the director, came on the same team as Mark)
Partners in Health
Medical Teams International
Doctors Without Borders
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
Catholic Relief Services
Mercy Corps
Habitat for Humanity International
God's Little Angels
American Red Cross

I know that there are many other great organizations.  But there are also new, fraudulent ones that have been recently created so stick with those that are tried and true.  Mark shared that Dr. Jeff Randle, the director of Healing Hands for Haiti (2nd on the list) came over on the same team and Mark says he is a great person.  Healing Hands for Haiti runs a Rehabilitation Center in Haiti for those with disabilities.  Mark feels that this will be a crucial facility in the future with all of the amputees, injuries, etc. that have occurred.

There is much good happening over there, it's not all disasters.  Here's a link to my cousin's daughter, Jill Wilkin, who was united yesterday in Portland with "Sammy", a little Haiti boy that they have been trying to adopt for over 2 years.
Look at the relief and joy in Jill's face!

All for now.


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