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Friday, February 19, 2010

NYTimes - Doctors Haunted by Haitians They Couldn’t Help

(READ MORE AT NY TIMES) PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The foreign doctors who performed the first amputations after the earthquake used hacksaws. They relied on vodka for sterilization, substituted local numbing for generalanesthesia, jury-rigged tourniquets from rubber gloves. Working around the clock in improvised operating rooms, they sacrificed limbs and lost patients to injuries that are no longer supposed to be disabling or deadly. 

Now back in their antiseptic, high-tech offices in the United States and elsewhere, the medical professionals who initially flew to Haiti’s rescue are haunted by their experiences, “overwhelmed by conflicting feelings of accomplishment and guilt,” as Dr. Louisdon Pierredescribed it.

They witnessed what Dr. Laurence J. Ronan ofMassachusetts General Hospital described as a “mass casualty horror show.” They practiced what Dr. Dean G. Lorich of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan called “Civil War medicine.” They saved lives, probably by the thousands, but their accomplishments were limited by the circumstances.  (READ MORE AT NY TIMES)

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