High Amputation Rate in Haiti: Current and Potential Solutions Background
On January 12th 2010, Haiti was hit by a significantly powerful earthquake. The magnitude was recorded at a 7.0 on the Richter scale. The death toll was estimated to be over 100,000 people (Cooper 2010). After the earthquake, many deaths and injuries occurred due to the poorly built homes and buildings. These accidents happened from the weak infrastructures of buildings and homes collapsing in on the people. Many difficulties faced the injured Haitian survivors. A large amount of the population suffered from a condition called crush syndrome. Crush syndrome occurs when a large object is lifted off a limb and circulation is restored. After it is lifted bodily fluids incorrectly flow through the affected limb, as protein was destroyed, the body stores it in an extravascular space which can be very dangerous to the victim. This “crush syndrome” increases the chance of kidney failure and also cardiac problems, not to mention the chance of infection on open wounds (QuakeHaiti.info 2010). 28 year old Rosemene Josiane trapped in the rubble from her house. She suffered severe damage to her leg and required amputation. 28 year old Rosemene Josiane trapped in the rubble from her house. She suffered severe damage to her leg and required amputation.
In Haiti, the patients that suffer from crush related injuries do not have the available medical resources to treat their injuries. If Haiti was able to, a hospital could simply provide intravenous fluids with surgical assistance to prevent kidney failure and irreversible damage to the affected limb or limbs (QuakeHaiti.info 2010). Unfortunately the government and people of Haiti do not have the funding to provide what could be simple medical treatments to prevent serious health conditions. Without money, victims only have one option to prevent crush injuries from killing them and that is amputation of the affected limb. One of the biggest contributors to the high amputation rate is that patients given antibiotics against crush-caused infections were given medication to treat gram positive pathogens, while researchers found that patients were actually affected with a gram negative pathogen (Cressey 2010). The fact that so many medical facilities had been destroyed from the quake also adds to the high rate of infection, death and amputation. It was estimated that by the end of 2010, that the number of amputees could be as high as 150,000 people (Padgett 2010). With Haitis’s poor economy and poor medical facilities, acquiring prosthetics for amputees was and still is a difficult task. Haiti currently does not have any large prosthetic production in action so most of what is provided is imported. Basic and cheap prosthetics that are imported from the U.S. still cost between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars; a price in that range in not affordable to most Haitians (Padgett 2010). Dr. Henri Ford, chief surgeon at a children’s hospital in Los Angeles who also volunteers in Haiti said, "Amputees are too often told in Haiti, 'You are a burden to society and to your family — people do not have the time for you.'" He went on to explain that before amputations are performed many victims will ask for death. This high rate of amputation can be seen as both a medical dilemma and an economic dilemma as most of the amputee victims are unable to work and support their family. Current Aid
Haiti was a poor country before the earthquake occurred in 2010. With all the damage that occurred, Haiti required and still requires outside aid. Many organizations throughout the world have been raising money to give Haiti towards medical supplies, restoring education and rebuilding what has been destroyed. The most in demand supplies right after the quake was antibiotics for crush victims. The AmeriCares foundation donated 40 million dollars’ worth of medicine and medical supplies to various medical teams and...
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