El Paso, Texas – Dr. Marco Diaz and Dr. Leonardo Loaiza, both assistant professors at Texas Tech University Health Science Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, are in Haiti to help victims of last week’s earthquake.
The doctors of medicine, who were contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard to help, arrived in Haiti at the beginning of this week.
Diaz sent the following e-mail to ABC-7 Saturday morning.
“Yesterday brought the arrival of Sen John Edwards and writer/producer/director Paul Haggis together with other Hollywood stars who personally delivered a rather large group of physicians. They arrived much like the emperors of Rome with a crew of camera men filming their every move. It was quite comical, but their help is much appreciated!Whether political or not, the senator and Mr. Haggis did manage to use their clout to help in the final stages of transfer of several spine and traumatic brain injury patients that had been sitting here for several days. Each of one of these patients was transferred in the back of whatever vehicle or “tap-tap” (as the Haitians call them) had room and down very bumpy and uncertain roads, —this without any backboards!! Scary and impressive!We now have somewhat of a surplus of physicians here in the hospital and thus are now looking to deliver care outside.Today Leo, myself and group of others went out to try and set up a satellite clinic in one of the more devastated areas of the city.Up until now, we had been limited to tending to the masses that somehow managed to make it out alive and to the hospital. No easy feat considering there is little if no transportation not to mention food, or water. In some cases, families (had) to hike through rubble for several miles with the wounded on a make shift stretcher, if lucky, otherwise simply dragging them. We had a C2 spine fracture that somehow managed to make it here without paralysis.The area we visited today was devastated beyond all scope of the imagination. There are still a few corpses on the side if the road. As you approach the valley through a climbing hill, suddenly you see the landscape of at least a thousand homes that have been completely leveled. It is here were we are trying to get the Italian ministry, who has very strong ties to this community, to provide a generator to set up a permanent clinic.A group of teenage boys eagerly offered to take us through the devastation. I get the sense they want us to see what they have been through so that we can forever remember what happened here and share it with others. As we trekked down this long winding trail of what was formerly a sidewalk a young boy stopped to show us what was his home and stoically stated, ‘my family is dead inside there.’ It was tragic.Up the hill the survivors have come together to conjure up a sort of ‘tent city.’ And by tent I mean a couple of sticks with plastic bags covering whatever they could salvage from their destruction. Amidst all the tragedy I witnessed the beginnings of life.I visited a young woman who recently gave birth to four-day-old twins and was now struggling with asthma. The lack of aid to this country is quickly evident. Yet, the comradery of this community, together digging, nailing, hammering and cooking for each other in effort to rebuild was absolutely impressive. I think I will be hard-pressed to find another group of people with such an amazing desire to live. It was a beautiful thing!You have children and people of all age groups with horribly disfiguring open fractures and dislocations that had been getting by without a single pain medication. You now have a generation of amputees as a result of infections and untreatable fractures. And now, after visiting what these patients are expected to return back to – the hundreds of devastated slums – I can’t help to wonder the life they will lead.Things here are, however, definitely getting better. Volunteers willing to participate in long-term follow up, in public health, and in programs aimed at clean up and creation of basic infrastructure are what are critically needed.Needless to say, these images and this experience will forever mark me.Once again thank you all for your support and we look forward to seeing you.”