Stories about: disaster relief efforts

Day nine from Haiti: some final thoughts before heading home

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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.

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Day seven from Haiti: one week down, lots of progress made

Children's trauma surgeon David Mooney, MD, is featured in today's Boston Globe article on infections in Haiti. Photo courtesy Boston Globe.
Children's trauma surgeon David Mooney, MD, is featured in today's Boston Globe article on infections in Haiti. Photo courtesy Boston Globe.

Editor’s note: All three members of the other Children’s team on the ground in Haiti, Pediatrician-in-Chief, Gary Fleisher, trauma surgeon David Mooney (left) and pharmacist Shannon Manzi, are featured in a Boston Globe article today about how infections are becoming the big problem for the people of Haiti.

Nelson 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:

Today was another hectic day in our makeshift OR. And to make it worse, we did not have any electricity the entire morning. But we continued on safely using our portable monitors, homemade suction and no bovies. You would be amazed how much work we got done without light or electricity. Things are starting to get better each day. As old teams leave and new ones arrive, we continue to get our work done. We all feel like we hit  the wall today. The fatigue is starting to get to us even though we are hydrating and trying to eat  as much as we can.

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Day six in Haiti: Making some improvement

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Nelson 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:

As we almost reach our first week here in Haiti, I wanted to share that Port au Prince is slowly making some improvement. Each day seems like the people here are trying their best to move on and go on with living. Despite the devastation and tragedy, we have seen the Haitian people looking for work, selling food on the street, cleaning what’s left of their homes, dressing up for Sunday’s best, attending services and children smiling and playing.

This patient was so thankful her legs were not amputated that she prayed for Nelson Aquino.
This patient was so thankful her legs were not amputated that she prayed for Nelson Aquino.

The city is full of dust, has poor air quality, remains in shambles and is piled with trash. The people are eating, sleeping and living in these conditions. Crowds gather daily to look for work, see the envoy of volunteers and fill roads with traffic. It amazes me that it took a major disaster for us to finally get over here and help this very poor country. I hope we continue to realize that we need to support Haiti and countries like Haiti. I am amazed how the less fortunate are so happy despite having nothing.

One of the patients I anesthetized today woke up screaming in joy that we did not amputate her legs. She proceeded to place her hand on my head and said a prayer for me. The interpreter said it was some really heavy stuff she was saying. For me, I feel so blessed to be able give all I can as  RN, CRNA and human being.

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Nelson Aquino day four in Haiti: pure adrenaline

Today we all made huge progress with our new OR. Our Children’s team

One of the operating rooms the Children's team is using
One of the operating rooms the Children's team is using

now has teamed up with the Brigham and Women’s and NYU teams to do surgery. Early this morning, our first group headed out to set up the OR and seek out our potential patients.

At the general hospital, we opened a preop area, 4 OR tables and a  PACU. Our team leaders worked hard today with the IMC (International Medical  Corporation) to make this happen.

While searching for extra beds, and the right Red Cross tent, Jay Hartford, a 7 South nurse, and I stumbled upon some chaos. A 2 day old baby had been  seizing on and off since birth. A team of paramedics were screaming for intubation, but only had large endotrachial tubes (ETT). So being a  pediatric CRNA, I naturally swarmed over and told the team that. Immediately they moved everyone aside and said, “Let him intubate.” As  the paramedic removed the ambu bag off the neonate, I used a large blade and intubated this 3 kg baby. As they listened for breath sounds and confirmed placement, everyone was clapping. The U.S. military arrived and helped us transport this neonate in a hummer. With no monitors, no meds and an unstable IV, the military guys shut  the doors and it was pitch black and 100 degrees.

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