Sunday, February 7, 2010

Helping In Haiti

Dr. Smith arrived back in Chattanooga late Wednesday night and even though he doesn't believe it, those of us around him all think he came back a little different. I mean, come on, how could you not? The stories he has told me are just unimaginable. I debated putting them on here, but he is adamant about telling his story, so I thought I would give you all a little glimpse into his trip. WARNING: it is a little graphic and VERY sad.

They arrived Wednesday, February 27 and the first night there was no room for them in a tent, so they slept on the pavement outside the hospital among the flies and mosquitoes. The next night they were able to move into a tent and stayed there the rest of the week. He was able to get a pillow by the 3rd or 4th night. When they got there they joined Italian and Brazilian surgeons and some other America physicians. They walked in to find that almost everyone in the "hospital" either had an amputation or was going to need one soon. I am so saddened by these stories.

One of the first patients he saw was a one year old with an amputated arm and leg (one on each side). Can you imagine how that would feel to see that? I can tell by the way he talks about it that it effected him.

Another was an 11-year old girl that had an amputated leg. Her mother had to carry her to and from the hospital for treatment of her wounds. Can you imagine carrying an almost grown girl to and from the hospital daily? We also take for granted the advances we have here with prosthetics and just crutches.

There was an elderly woman that walked into the hospital one day with a makeshift cane out of a flimsy stick. As soon as she got on the tile floor her cane went out from under her and she fell to the floor. Again, we just don't realize how fortunate we are that we have such easy access to canes, crutches, and wheelchairs.

The flies and mosquitoes were bad. Even in the operating rooms, which I can imagine are anything but clean and sterile like we have here. Another thing that I've heard is that orphans just walk into the hospital alone to ask for help. Can you imagine being a child and alone in that environment? It would be so scary.

As we heard bits and pieces of news from Haiti before they got back we heard that it was very difficult to get in or out of Haiti and they were worried about getting back home. I started to wonder if he would want to go back for his second trip (on Feb 13). As soon as he started talking to me on Thursday, I knew that he was going, no matter what. He has such a passion to help them, especially the children. Which has been astounding to us that know him well here, he stays away from peds patients at all expense. He does adult work for a reason, kids as patients are just not his thing. I asked him why he was so dedicated to helping them as much as he despises pediatric work and he said they deserve better than what they've been given. That is so true. I am so blessed to be able to work for someone that wants to give so much back.


Lauren Kelly said...


Lauren said...

I got chills just reading this...I can't imagine what that was like. And to think he's going back - wow.