Partners In Health: Sat., 1/23 Report from Haiti

Jan 23, 2010, 15:01 ET from Partners In Health

*** PIH spokespeople in Haiti and Boston available to provide additional insight on the situation ***

BOSTON, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following release was issued today by Partners In Health:

In a late-night email from Port-au-Prince, PIH Medical Director Joia Mukherjee reported an inspiring example of lifesaving international collaboration from the night before. The case of a baby suffering from severe blood loss and in shock was discovered by the Haitian nurse who serves as Chief Administrator at HUEH, who was rounding by flashlight, with two Haitian doctors who had returned from their pediatric residencies in Cuba to help. Joia described what happened next:

"Because the blood bank that the Haitian Red Cross was a day or two away, an orthopedic trauma surgeon from Grand Rapids, MI, stepped up to the plate and drew 60 cc of his own O negative blood into a regular syringe. Plastic surgeon John Meara [from Boston] put a needle into the baby's tibial bone marrow (an intraosseus line) and we moved the baby to the operating room where anesthesiologists from Boston and Grand Rapids went into full code mode finally securing a line and giving the direct whole blood transfusion and nearly one liter of fluid (half the baby's body weight), oxygen and antibiotics. Because we had no general surgeons, we transported the baby to one of the US military facilities, after several hours getting confirmation of its location. We don't yet have an update on the baby; however, we have every hope that she will do very, very well. My brief rest was made more peaceful by this one miraculous example of collaborative spirit between Haiti and nurses, doctors, drivers, and soldiers from around the world, on behalf of a tiny baby, whose life, like those of all babies, is our collective human responsibility."

Dr. Mukherjee, who has been working around the clock in Haiti since 48 hours after the earthquake, will be returning briefly to Boston early next week and will be available for interviews.

The latest developments as reported by the PIH team in Haiti and Boston this morning:

  • PIH medical personnel on the ground in Haiti report continuing progress in ramping up surgical care, but warn that equal or greater attention, resources, and urgency are needed to address other dimensions of a humanitarian crisis affecting more than 3 million people - shelter, food, water, sanitation, primary medical care. "The reality now is medics are not the main issue in terms of care. It's still a problem of supplies, coordination, post-operative care and the problem of internally displaced people. There will be more than one million people that need shelter - maybe many more - some with acute medical needs, some without. All in need of care, shelter, food, water, beds, etc.  This is the next crisis. It's happening now and I think it will get much worse very, very fast," said Dr. Mukherjee . Large tents, x-rays, and heparin (to prevent blood clotting) top the current list of urgently needed supplies, along with rapid HIV tests and prophylaxis to protect against infection from needle-sticks and cuts for medical staff and patients.
  • The PIH team also reports that life is returning in Port-au-Prince with street markets opening and Haitians courageously rebuilding their lives and demonstrating inspiring resilience in the face of such tragedy and loss. PIH's Haitian doctors are expanding their reach into neighborhoods across Port-au-Prince, bringing medical care and other vital services to people who have set up encampments in parks, streets, and courtyards. PIH regards these self-organized communities as the best foundation for our medical response and calls on the international community to do the same by joining us in efforts to distribute food, water, shelter, sanitation and other essential services equitably and efficiently.
  • Partners In Health was one of seven organizations benefiting from the most widely distributed telethon in history, Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief hosted by MTV last night from 8:00pm to 10:00pm (7:00pm CST) and aired on all the major networks.  James Taylor also raised funds for Partners In Health's relief work in Haiti last night at a sold-out concert in Great Barrington, MA. He has scheduled a second concert benefiting Haiti and PIH tonight.
  • PIH Executive Director Ophelia Dahl - who landed in Port-au-Prince yesterday and has been meeting with our team there and at the 12 PIH sites located outside the capital city - thanked both celebrity participants and grassroots contributors to the Telethon and other benefit for their solidarity with the people of Haiti in this time of need:

"All of us at Partners In Health are overwhelmed by the generosity of people around the world who donated in the 'Hope for Haiti' telethon. We are thankful to the many talented celebrities who gave their time to generate support for this cause and all those in the entertainment industry who made this remarkable show happen. Partners In Health, together with hundreds of other partner organizations, have been able to make great strides in the emergency medical relief. The funds raised will go a long way in helping us provide medical equipment and supplies as we work with the Ministry of Health in Haiti to strengthen the public health infrastructure in the months and years to come."

  • As part of PIH's long-term commitment to relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, PIH has greatly expanded its procurement and supply operation to include a 27,000 square foot warehouse space in Miami. The warehouse will serve as a primary storage and shipment point for PIH for medicines, medical equipment, and supplies, as well as vehicles and other equipment needed to rebuild and expand the public health infrastructure.
  • The first of many surgical teams that Partners In Health has sent to Haiti returned to Boston last night, after dropping off one doctor in Palm Beach. Responding to the need for round-the-clock surgery and the outpouring of volunteers, PIH plans to rotate teams through Haiti regularly in order to avoid exhaustion and burnout and maintain the highest possible level of medical care. Several members of the team who returned on Friday are available for interviews.


Founded in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, Partners In Health (PIH) is an international health care organization based in Boston that works in 12 countries to deliver high quality health care and to break the cycle of disease and poverty.

PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is one of the largest health care providers in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley.

PIH had more than 100 doctors, 600 nurse and 4,000 employees on the ground in Haiti working from 12 existing PIH medical facilities in Haiti before the earthquake struck on January 12th.

STAND WITH HAITI: PIH Immediate Response to Earthquake in Haiti:

  • PIH quickly established field hospitals in Port-au-Prince, and currently has 20 operating rooms up and running, with 12 functioning 24-hours a day.  PIH has been designated by the World Health Organization to serve as the primary coordinators of University Hospital in Port-au-Prince (HUEH).
  • PIH established a relief transfer system to transfer patients from Port-au-Prince (HUEH) to PIH sites in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite Valley, which includes 12 clinical facilities already treating patients.
  • PIH was one of the first NGOs to evacuate patients in critical condition to hospitals in the United States and Dominican Republic and is now coordinating the evacuation of patients in critical condition to the United States Naval Ship, the U.S.S. Comfort.
  • PIH has sent 22 plane loads with more than 140 medical volunteers - orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical nurses and other medical professionals - and several thousand pounds of medical supplies to support the more than 4,500 PIH health care providers already in Haiti.
  • The long-term ramifications in Haiti are going to be significant and far-reaching with a new, large group of vulnerable and displaced people. PIH has the experience and commitment to Stand with Haiti for many years to come.

Media Contacts:

Andrew Marx, 617-998-8977, (

Meredith Eves, 617-998-8977, (

SOURCE Partners In Health