Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another, more graphic story of a medical trip to Haiti

More impressions from medical volunteers in Haiti, this time from the perspective of one who dealt with more critical injuries. A couple of days ago we linked to an essay from a volunteer who treated the "walking wounded." This following story is a bit more graphic, as it comes from a nurse who treated many of the injuries suffered from being crushed by buildings.

From the Oklahoman, columnist Charlotte Lankard relates the story of nurse Micah North.

On their way to the clinic, they passed three mass graves that were nothing but big holes in the ground in which bodies had been dumped and covered with dirt.

She said the smallest grave had about 80,000 bodies.

She could not find a word adequate to describe the stench.

While working in the clinic, she described the patients as screaming, loud and verbal. She remembers a 7-year-old whose blood pressure was so low, the bottom number did not register. Gangrene had spread into her abdomen and down to both knees. She was dying. North accompanied her when she was moved to a location for critical cases, but she will never know if she survived.

Surrounded by "crush” injuries, amputations, wound infections, malaria and typhoid, she soon realized that disaster medicine is much different from her normal nursing duties.

"You do what you can with what you have,” she said.

She told of Tency, 8, who had a broken femur that had become infected. On one difficult afternoon, North danced for her, and Tency smiled. Tency often asked North to dance again.

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