Reflections From Haiti: “I Felt Invisible”

February 8, 2010

By Anthony Amoroso, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Dr. Amoroso was part of the first University of Maryland team to go to Haiti to provide medical care to earthquake survivors.  Below are his reflections, written while en route back to Baltimore. Read Dr. Amoroso’s second Haiti blog post

I’m now in Boston awaiting my connection to BWI, my extraction provided by a UN cargo plan. I’m sitting here watching the Rachael Ray Show … the altered sense of reality is intense.

Watching CNN with the horrific pictures of bodies and destruction compelled us all to do something. I am grateful for Dr. [Robert] Redfield, Dr.  [Thomas]  Scalea and all the others for giving me the opportunity to put away the TV remote and help.

I had been to Haiti 5 other times. I knew things would be difficult, but words and a few photos from a moving car cannot capture the utter destruction, impromptu camps, dust, smells and filth. There are certainly thousands upon thousands of people entombed in the rubble and still thousands suffering from untreated wounds and fractures. And I fear the next wave of misery from unsanitary living conditions is around the corner.

For the first time in Haiti I felt invisible, and I was stuck by the fact that people were getting back to the daily hard work necessary to survive in Port-au-Prince.

The Haitian people are hard as nails, but I simply cannot image any rosy future for Port-au-Prince. The international response, though large, is perplexing, and I think the poverty, destruction, and trauma is a staggering challenge.

I believe we did something meaningful. I believe we made a indelible connection not only to the patients but the staff and students of the hospital. I am proud to have been part of the Maryland team — tough, focused, careful and caring and never self important or touristic. I am thankful for the vision, professionalism, respect and humor of the “team.”

The terms “block crush injury” will be with me for life.

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More Reflections From Haiti: “I Fear for the Patients”
June 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cherie Baker February 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Thank you for such a poignant essay.

2 Diana Taylor February 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I’m speechless………….thank you.

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