Victims treated with 'jungle medicine'
Published 29/01/2010 | 05:00
Haiti will have a generation of amputees after tens of thousands of people lost limbs in the earthquake that struck the island two weeks ago, doctors said yesterday.
The only building in Haiti that produced prosthetic limbs was damaged.
At Port-au-Prince hospital doctors have had to amputate arms, legs, hands and feet and said patients with crush injuries and gangrenous infections were still arriving from the countryside.
Beatrix Moran, who was born in Haiti but moved to America to become a nurse, said: "This is like jungle medicine here. We try to do the best for the patients but sometimes we don't have the material we need."
She was treating Marie Guerdy (40), a mother of two who was selling bread in the street when a building collapsed, crushing her left leg, which was amputated above the knee.
Ms Guerdy had been able to earn 50 Haitian gourde (less than €1) a day but will not be able to work again to provide for her children Dassy (22) and Jean Charles (3). In tears, she said: "Life is over for me. I don't know what to do. Thank God it was me and not my children, but how will I get food for them?"
The hospital has a desperate nursing shortage after a wing collapsed in the earthquake, burying 150 nursing students.
Dr Bruce Mintz, from New Jersey, had personally treated about 200 amputee patients at the hospital.
"We have some of the best surgeons in the world here but we haven't got the nurses we need."
Dr Beat Kehrer, a Swiss paediatric surgeon, said the situation was worse than a war. "In a disaster like this we have all the patients created in one moment. We have thousands of disabled people and many amputations, including babies." (© Daily Telegraph, London)