Day nine from Haiti: some final thoughts before heading home


Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, is still in Haiti with a group of Children’s clinicians. He’s been sending us updates and photos almost daily. Today he gives one more update before he and the others members of the team head back to the United States:

Today (Thursday) was our last day in the OR. The Haitian surgical team will be taking over their OR tomorrow with the few left over volunteers. Tomorrow, the Haitians will be administering their own anesthesia and providing nursing care. This is great that they are ready to become independent again. We all hope they will be able to do so.

We started our day just like we ended our first night, resuscitating a newborn baby. Dr. McClain, Dr. Waisel and the OR team were able to resuscitate the infant and transfer him to the DMAT. In the OR, our team managed two rooms and the Haitians took over the other two. Dr. Meara and Dr. Rogers finished their last surgeries today. I was able to finish my cases today with spinal anesthesia and sedation. Overall, we estimated about 70 surgeries total, not including the sedation in the PACU and in the tents.

Our nurses did amazing work this week making sure all the tents and patients were well cared for, despite the lack of resources. Day in and day out the OR nurses, scrub tech and field nurses cared for hundreds of victims and their families. They were able to teach and empower the Haitian nurses to provide the highest standard of care for their patients.

Terri and Lisa devoted their time in the pediatric tent on their own. Sadly, they lost an infant who presented with dehydration and febrile seizures. The nurses say the EMT s were giving mouth to mouth while they were doing CPR. When I stopped by to visit, the child had just passed and you could hear the mother wailing in the streets. It was terrible to hear and so sad because at home this baby would be alive.

Follow-up care will be provided by the Haitians and volunteers left at the General Hospital. One patient that Dr. Meara stitched up yesterday was from Brockton and will actually see Dr. Meara on Monday in Waltham!!! The man was visiting Haiti, fell and needed stitches on his upper lip. Now that is continuity of care!

As I sit here tonight, thinking about our trip, I am extremely humbled by this experience. It is bitter-sweet, knowing we have helped hundreds, but sad to say there are hundreds of thousands more that need our help.

Tomorrow we head to the airport and will fly home on standby. Some of us may end up in Chicago or Miami tomorrow. If possible, some of us may get flights into Boston late Friday night or during the day on Saturday. Cross your fingers!

What we choose to leave behind are the huge Air Force cargo planes flying over our heads all night long every 30 minutes. It will be so nice to be home to see all our family and friends and get a good night’s sleep!

One last request is that no one should ever forget the devastation that took place here only 12 days ago. We have left behind all that we brought: medical supplies, clothes, sleeping bags, money and day9pulleven our shoes for the people.

May we hope the infrastructure will change and the good will that all of the world has shown will continue. It may take a while, but we all need to stay vigilant. We heard a story from one of our volunteers whose friend was heading home to the U.S. Upon coming to customs the Haitian officials were charging missionaries and medical volunteers money in order to receive donated supplies to the country. We all need to encourage our government to promote change in Haiti. If this is not done, the people will continue to suffer and die.

Thanks to all of you following this blog. Thank you to our Children’s team, Partners in Health, and to all the people in Haiti for your  inspiration and continued faith in the world.


Nelson J. Aquino, CRNA, MS

Staff Nurse Anesthetist

Children’s Hospital Boston