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We were all shocked to hear of the earthquake in Haiti and were immediately at work trying to get transportation and safety arranged for getting medical teams in to help.  After many contributed to the effort, our first medical team arrived in Haiti about 10 days after the earthquake. We had to fly in by chartered plane to Cap Haitien and truck over to Hinche with a UN escort. It was a big undertaking with Port au Prince airport completely out of commission and Mission Aviation Fellowship suspended indefinitely. We were so happy to find our friends well and the compound undamaged.

The injured from Port au Prince had come to the Hinche hospital in large numbers seeking care. There were patients lying on the ground outside of the hospital. It was heartbreaking to see. This hospital has only the bare necessities, cement floor, no screens on the windows and flies all around. On our team, we had a combination of medical and construction people so that we were prepared to make necessary repairs where needed at the compound. We had an anesthesiologist, a trauma surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, and internist and family practitioners who all worked day and night to help the injured. We also brought a cargo plane load of supplies and medications. Although it was delayed, it did arrive and was a huge blessing to the many teams that were to follow and for the thousands of Haitians that would seek refuge in the Central Plateau area.  Many groups from around the Temecula Valley area, Idaho, northern California and others held drives to collect gauze, wound and infection prevention items, toiletries, toys for children and much more. It seemed as though the hearts of our whole country wanted to help. Newspapers were calling, TV stations were calling, individuals and churches were asking what they could do to help. It was amazing.

One memory that will always be very special is of a small boy named Josef. We found him at the Hinche hospital with multiple fractures from the quake. After 12 days, he had had no treatment at all for his injuries. Our surgeons were anxious to help him, but with his small size and his type of injury the surgical table would not be adequate. Our construction team jumped in and made an extension for the table so that the surgery was able to take place. This boy can walk today because of what they built and it was available now to be used for other surgeries as well – awesome to see.

The construction crew also dressed up in crazy outfits and went around the hospital entertaining and brightening the spirits of the children who were first traumatized and then  immobile in the hospital. The kids had makeshift traction riggings made out of plastic jugs filled with sand to weigh down their legs. They would be there for  weeks  if not months in this position. This simple moment of laughter and fun was the best medicine they could have received.

Since January 2010 we have sent  many medical teams to serve. They have primarily come from Southern California, but they have also been from Idaho and other areas of the country.  We hold clinics at the compound, go out to the local villages and hold mobile clinics at tent cities. A year after the earthquake, we are still helping amputees to receive prosthetics and follow up surgeries from their injuries. The Adventist hospital in Port au Prince has been invaluable for this. They have always been willing to see the patients we bring to them. In particular, Dr. Scott Nelsen has done multiple surgeries both in Cap Haitien and in Port au Prince. His surgeries have changed the lives of many who were disfigured or unable to walk due to various orthopedic abnormalities or injuries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dr. Walt Combs

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