Haiti: It must have seemed like anyone who went to the hospital got an amputation #HaitiDrDispatch



I received the following email from Anil on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 05:39 (am). He wrote it at the end of his sixth full day in Haiti. I've made minor spelling and grammar corrections and have tried my best to fill in missing words. I've added hyperlinks where I thought they might help.

(Note: Anil included a photo with this post but wrote, "Blank out face or omit if it seems too much." After seeing the image of a recent double amputee, I opted to omit it. It was too much for me, and so I decided it would be too much for this series. The words are difficult enough on their own.)

05:39 ET

The next person I looked for was an older woman named Official who lost her right arm and leg in the earthquake. She just came in because her son struggled to get her here. Dr. Pier [Boutin], the lead surgeon [from Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, Mass.], took her to the OR immediately for wound cleaning, debridement and amputation (it must have seemed like anyone who went to the hospital got an amputation - I'm sure that stopped many from coming). 

Though she looked good the day before, given those injuries, she did not look good that morning. She couldn't talk as before and she struggled to breathe. Early on, her 13 year old son asked if she was Alive. Of course she was alive. I looked over, and she wasn't breathing. She didn't have reflexes either. 

My lowest point came when I [told] her son she was not alive. I held him as he cried and asked if he had anyone to help. He didn't because they were all crushed by the ceiling. It was hard to leave, even with an older woman to take my place. It felt cheap to give him food because it wasn't enough. Worse yet he left sometime in the afternoon before we could be sure he had any support. I won't ever forget his face.

Anil S Menon

Sent from iPhone

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Anil Menon, MD is a clinical instructor at Stanford School of Medicine focused on surgery and emergency medicine. His research interests are Aerospace Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Wilderness Medicine. He graduated from Stanford Med in 2006, received a degree in mechanical engineering in 2003 and became a full ER doctor in 2009. He has practiced medicin in combat in Afghanistan and will be practicing aerospace medicine next year at NASA. Menon is a flight surgeon assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing (F-15s) of the Oregon Air National Guard, and he's part of a team sent to Haiti by Stanford.

This entire series is chronicled under the HaitiDrDispatch tag