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Friday, January 15, 2010

Dr. Scott Nelson is in Port-au-Prince...

Loma Linda University School of Medicine graduate Dr. Scott Nelson a pediatric orthopedic surgeon is on the ground and already working in Port-au-Prince Haiti (PaP). Within moments after the shaking stopped Scott went to work trying to secure a means of transportation for he and his surgical team to get from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to PaP. I've been on the phone with both he and his wife Marni no less than 20 times and have lost count of the emails in the last 48 hours as we have tried to establish the condition of the SDA hospital and how LLU could support him in PaP.

We (LLU) received post quake satellite imagery late on Wednesday 1/13 which was acquired earlier in the day. After analysis of the imagery it appeared that the SDA facilities survived and were already functioning as a trauma center. Based on that information Scott chartered a private plane to fly he and his team to PaP. Early this morning (1/14) Scott called to say that the PaP airport had been closed to incoming flights but that there was still a chance of getting in and he was going to try. Around noon, while in a Haiti response meeting with Dr. Hart and other LLU VP's my cell rang, it was Scott, in the plane, ready to take off, still not knowing if he would be able to land in PaP. Around 3:30PM I got a call from Marni, the pilot had called her to tell her that they had made it and Scott and team were there and on their way to the hospital. I have just received the following update from Scott:

1/14/2010 7:30PM PST
Hello All,
We were fortunately able to make a landing after circling PAP airport for one hour. They gave our pilot 3 minutes of time to stay on the ground. We were met by a team of people who were waiting for our plane and had good vehicles to take us to assess a couple of hospitals. Most of our equipment was placed on another plane which did not make it today. We found parking lots full of fractures, open wounds, traumatic amputations. The damages are every bit as bad as seen on CNN. Dead bodies are laying on the sidewalks in many places, some have been collected by trucks.

The first hospital we visited was not equipped to do orthopaedic surgery even under normal conditions. We then went to Hopital du la Communitie Haitien a 75 bed community hospital in Freres near Delma. There are many orthopaedic cases filling the parking lot and patio as everyone is too scared to be inside a building. One 3 year old child was about to get his arm amputated by an opthamologist and she was relieved to turn the case over to me. The family was even more relieved to know that we could save the arm. Tomorrow we will do further surgery on him and others. The hospital is not damaged and they have power and running water available. There are 2 OR's that are quite nice. We were not able to visit Hopital Adventiste D'Haiti, but we will try to assess the situation there tomorrow as well as some other locations. We plan to begin operating at the Hopital du la Communitie tomorrow when our equipment arrives. Meantime we will try to team up with some of the rescue teams and stay in touch with the media.

To all those interested volunteers who want to pack goods and work - I do not yet have much of a needs list, but will say that there are orthopaedic injuries of all types and do not hesitate to mobilize your resources. I am trying to identify a several places with at least some minimal infrastructure where we can safely treat people. More soon.

We are being well taken care of.

Clearly God's hand has been with Scott to get him where he is. Scott has operated in Haiti more than 20 times over the past 5 years and I believe there are very few people better suited to the task he has before him. Clearly he is already saving limbs and lives. Please pray for Scott's continued success and safety and please consider the links below. I will try to keep you up to date as Scott sends updates.

LLU has setup a special fund specifically where donations can be made to support the hospital and Scott’s work:

First post quake satellite imagery acquired 10:30AM 1/13/2010 The imagery of the hospital shows what appear to be an intact structure and a significantly higher number of cars than usual which we believe to be a sign that the hospital is functional. We also consider the lack of people camped out on the surrounding lawns a good sign of the hospitals functionality. The University open areas are clearly being used as a staging area and the buildings look reasonably intact.

Hopital Adventiste D'Haiti

Universite Adventiste d’Haiti

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