- Title: HAITI: American hospital ship treats Haitian quake victims
- Date: 29th January 2010
- Summary: SHIP CREW HOLDING HAITIAN BABY VARIOUS OF HAITIAN BABY
- Embargoed: 16th February 2010 01:26
- Location: Haiti
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: International Relations,Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA65DMZSKR10X4NEGTD8USAJF19
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Doctors on the U.S. Navy's hospital ship Comfort are fighting gangrenous infections in broken limbs as they try to save the lives, if not the arms and legs, of Haiti's earthquake victims.
With hospitals largely devastated in the capital, the ship is treating the most seriously injured quake victims. But even its resources are being stretched to the limit.
"Over the last seven days, we admitted over 550 critically ill patients. We've done over two hundred major operations on these patients and we expect to continue that medical process for the next 45 to 60 days in 24-hour cycles," said one medic, Dr Ware.
Many of the more than 500 people treated so far on the ship have needed amputations.
The total number of amputees due to the earthquake could stretch into the tens of thousands, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Their care will burden the country's medical system for decades.
The magnitude 7.0 quake hit late afternoon on January 12 and wounds left untreated that long frequently develop fatal infections unless the limb is taken off.
Victor Pierre, a Haitian man whose two children are being treated for head injuries as well as burns, are among the dozens of extreme cases in which Haitian patients are being flown to the U.S. for further treatment. Pierre's two children will be taken to a U.S. hospital with a special burn unit for five days of intensive treatment.
"I was at work then I went back home. I saw my house destroyed. I lost my wife, my cousins, my family," Victor Jean Pierre said of the night that has upended the lives of so many Haitians.
Already in Port-au-Prince, one-legged people on crutches are a frequent sight, part of what a Haitian doctor said was a generation of amputees, many of them young, who will need expensive care that was unavailable to most even before the quake hit the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
The Comfort's doctors count as a miracle a young man badly infected with gangrene they thought surely would die. Taking off his arm and leg saved his life.
The Comfort, and its 200 doctors and nurses, will be here as long as the Haitian government says it is needed, said a ship public affairs official.
They were told to prepare for at least a six-month trip. Operating rooms on the 1,000-bed ship run around the clock to treat orthopedic injuries and head wounds.
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