Day five in Haiti: Fighting the odds

port au princeNelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, is in Haiti with a group of Children’s clinicians. He’s been sending us updates and photos almost daily. Here’s his most recent email:

In the PACU today, we had a young boy screaming words in Haitian. We asked the interpreter whether he was having pain and where? The interpreter said he wasn’t having pain, but said he was calling out the names of all his dead family members and asking them to help him. My heart just dropped and I looked at him and rubbed his forehead, I didn’t know what else to do.

For every tragedy there is a miracle. Today I learned about a man I had cared for yesterday in a tent. This man was emaciated and rumor was he was found 10 days later in the rubble. I remember seeing him transported in when we arrived. I was giving him sedation for his dressing changes.

This man was found alive after spending 10 days in a morgue.

Later, I found out the real story. The man was actually found in the morgue. He was thought to be dead and pulse-less and placed with the other deceased. When workers opened the morgue doors 10 days later, they saw this man was moving his hands! He was immediately resuscitated and placed on a fentayl patch for hospice care. Well today he is alive and sitting up and drinking! The Haitians have now named him ” Black Jesus.” He even looks like that too. What an amazing story.In the OR today, our teams completed 15 operative cases and several same day procedures. It was nonstop from the moment we walked in at 7 a.m. until we left at 6 p.m. We had over 10 surgeons specializing in ortho trauma, plastics, general and vascular surgery. Our team had four working ORs and is the main center for surgery. At one point , our preop area was jammed packed. We had to ask the US military to guard the door and do some crowd control.

Overall, it was very busy and many patients were seen and cared for. We manged to have a team of doctors and nurses monitoring the tents and find teams to care for our patients overnight. One of teams was from Dartmouth Hitchcock in New Hampshire. This group consisted of an ER doc and all nurses. These people are amazing. They accepted all our patients and have the best reputation in the hospital grounds. We had an 82 airborne medic who asked to come and watch surgeries. We actually had him scrub in with his machine gun on his back! See the pic! These medics were so helpful putting in IVs, transporting and caring for all these injured people.

Nelson Aquino, Craig McClain and Dave Waisel taking a well-deserved break

Lastly, I need to share how unbelievable the Haitian people are. We have many volunteers translating for us, feeding us, driving us, protecting us, cleaning for us, shopping for us and just making us feel at home. Some of these volunteers have lost many family, their homes and everything they own. But they have not lost their spirit or pride. It amazes me how resilient people cam be in the midst of devastation. We have had so many experiences, many I have not been able to share. But all in all, our entire group is safe, healthy, grateful and humbled being here.