Le Bonheur doctors say massive need stills exists in Haiti

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Fresh from the life-saving mission of a lifetime, a group of doctors from Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center assembled Tuesday to talk about their recent trip to Haiti.

"For me it was all the superlatives," said Dr. Derek Kelly, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. "It was the best. It was the worst. It was all those things wrapped together."

The team of doctors returned home from Haiti over the weekend, after spending two weeks in an already deprived country that was further wrecked by a massive earthquake.

"I didn't find the trip as emotionally stressful and challenging as I thought it would be," Kelly said. "I actually found it emotionally very positive. The patients that I worked with, and even the family members and friends that were there, they were all happy, grateful and smiling despite their pain."

The team spent nearly 16 hours per day preparing, commuting, and treating patients, followed by surgery, and then more preparation.

Massive need stills exists in the battered nation, the surgeons said.

"Getting those people who have been amputated back on their feet so they can eat, because if you can't walk you can't eat," said Dr. Trey Eubanks, a pediatric surgeon. "A Haitian nurse told me that, and that's really true."

"What's really frustrating, though, is that you're not sure what's going to happen after you leave," added Dr. Joel Saltzman, a pediatric anesthesiologist. "And I will tell you some of the patients that we took care of, my wife and I have talked about this, you still think about those people, and hope that they're doing alright."

The doctors said they learned a lot about life during their time in Haiti.

"It gave us a very important perspective on life," team leader Dr. Sunny Anand said.

This team treated 600 patients and performed 75 surgeries during its time in Haiti.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.