Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jan. 27: Update

Note: Dave is texting all of this information, so I apologize for any garbled phrases or words.

A long day has finally ended. We got her at about 7 am and went straight to the central hospital. When I say hospital, I don't mean it like anything you've ever seen in Los Angeles. The guys who have been here since Day One told us that the hospital was overrun with rats. The poverty here is not to be believed. There was a tragedy in Haiti but the earthquake is only the latest chapter. Doctors from all across the world have been thrown together and are making it work at the hospital. In a short amoung of time, we have gotten to know some of them and hear their stories.

I'm exhausted and about to go to sleep in a tent on concrete, so I'm just going to list some things that maybe I can expound on later:

In spite of what you've seen on CNN, things are not crazy down here. In fact, everyone is working together and being extremely patient. I sat and hung out with 3 surgeons tonight who have been here a week and they told me they've performed 200 operations and haven't had to amputate a single limb. I mentioned that the impression on TV is that everyone has lost a limb. Apparently, when things first happened there were aid organizations doing the best they could, but they were in over their heads, so they amputated rather than risking surgery. That spread like wildfire and now people with fractures are afraid to come in, and instead wait until the last minute and end up with gangrene. Insanity.

I was talking with an ENT from Brooklyn who told me that he went out on a search and rescue mission last week and had to make the choice between saving a mother in one part of the house or the father and son in another. He decided to save the father and son, and the mother was gone by the time he got to her. It seems like everyone has a story like this.

The roughtest part of the day was walking through the Swiss pediatrics tent. Babies and infants in the kind of shape no one would ever want to see. Many worn parents there too, but many kids are alone. It's horrible. We checked out an operating room as well, while they were operating. When I say 'room' I mean just that. I can't believe what they pull off with what they have. The toughtest cases get sent to the USS Compassion out in the harbor that has 1000 beds and a crack surgical team. Oddly enough, there are tons of Scientologists here. They are extremely helpful and wear there yellow Scientology shirts.

We are camped near the airport and about every ten minutes, an army transport takes off or lands. It's really loud and almost drowns out the noise of all the generators.

For those of you who asked, I have no yet visited the Israeli camp yet, but the first person I saw on the ground was an IDF soldier with a yarmulka. Odd context. When you mention them here, everyone pretty much agrees that they are the best at what they are doing. The first place rheu (?) try when they need equipment is the IDF hospital and I was told that in general, "an dray" (?) takes 3 to 4 hours and maybe you hear back the next day. At the IDF hospital it takes 15 minutes and within another 15 minutes you get results back from a team in Israel who has checked it over.

No one is sleeping inside but everyone is very cool about it. People are on the sidewalks and even rooftops. I'm sure there is more, but I'm too spent to write. Tomorrow, I'll follow a team into some remote villages that have not been "rexhwd" (sorry, having trouble decifering this... any ideas?) since the event as it is known.


  1. rexhwd is probably "reached"

  2. It should probably be mentioned that Palestinians in Gaza, who have nothing -- including the excellent medical care Israel is making available to Haitians -- have sent aid as well. Pretty impressive given the massive poverty in Gaza.


  3. "The first place rheu (?) try when they need equipment is the IDF hospital and I was told that in general, "an dray" (?) takes 3 to 4 hours and maybe you hear back the next day."

    I believe "rheu" is they, and "an dray" might be army.