Somebody’s Somebody

I feel like I need to start with an apology! Usually at this point in a trip I have written at least once but it has been so very busy here in Port au Prince. We arrived Tuesday and our awesome team hit the ground running as they usually do. Long, long days but so worth it.

The nurses always bring it. Honestly, they have been absolutely incredible. And this trip we have a great combination of new and returning nurses from across the province… St. Anthony, Torbay, Whitbourne… many of them have never met before yet they gel immediately and it is seamless. Every nurse doing everything possible, whether that’s in the OR, in the ER, in pediatrics, wherever they can help. Everyone home should be so proud.

Each trip to Haiti is always unique and this one is no different. In fact, we have a Team Broken Earth first on this trip. We have a full family of medical professionals with us. The Pridham’s are a healthcare powerhouse! Dr. Jeremy Pridham is one of our founding members but together the family covers anesthesia, medicine, physiotherapy, as well as dentistry and logistics. It really fills us all with so much pride to watch them in action, I can only imagine how Jeremy feels.

The work is never-ending here. The patients have been non-stop and the clinic day saw massive numbers. We have more work than we can handle but will make sure we do as much as we can before handing the rest over to the next team. The model is sound. It’s working. We’re making a difference here and I allow myself just one moment of contentment. Just one. Because the reality is right outside these gates and it’s harsh. But you got to live in the doing when you’re here. Back at it.

Mid afternoon Thursday there was a sudden commotion outside the gate of the hospital. A car had lost control and struck several people. The team assembled on the roof to assess what was happening. There’s screaming and people gathering frantically yelling for help. Lucky, I thought, it happened literally adjacent to the hospital wall so we should be able to help this person. We quickly assemble a team. The patient is lifted by several men from the streets through the gate of the hospital and they place her on the courtyard ground, she looks to be 20 years old. Dr. Marshall takes the lead. Something is not right. There are flies everywhere, more than normal, circling the young girls head, and very little blood. She is dead.

I take her feet while others help with her head and body, which is heavy and lifeless. Trying to give her some dignity, we place her on a stretcher and take her to the morgue. It’s a dark cement locked area at the end of the courtyard. Before we roll her in we look through her personal belongings. There is an iPhone. As we’re holding it, someone is texting her. Not sure why but watching the texts come in punched me in the gut. Someone on the other end, a loved one, a friend, is texting not knowing that they will never hear her voice again. One of the team says, “she’s somebody’s somebody.” Staring at the iPhone, I had to wipe a tear. Like I said earlier, reality is right outside the gate. Harsher than we realize sometimes.

I don’t know her name. She was just some 20-something kid outside the hospital walking somewhere, maybe to meet with friends, see a boyfriend, you know, just living her life. In my line of work, in trauma, your life changes in milliseconds. No time for second chances. No time to reconsider. No time for last words. How different her life would be if she had taken a different turn, stopped for a Coke, or even stepped two steps to the left today. The randomness seems strikingly unfair. More so that this has nothing do with being in Haiti. This could’ve happened in St. John’s, in Toronto, in Hong Kong, anywhere.

The randomness of it. Her age. Makes you want to hug all your loved ones. Your own somebody. You just never know when they will not respond to your text.

All I can write for now.

Andrew

17 Responses to “Somebody’s Somebody”

October 1 at 8:34 pm, Theresa said:

Thank you for all you and your Team do.

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October 1 at 9:04 pm, Marilyn Warford said:

Gut wrenching for sure…but we all feel that each and every time our Doctors and nurses leave for Haiti….and this is why we all say “stay safe” and we breathe a heavy sigh when you return…When we work with you people each and every day you become our family too….it totally is awesome work that you do and we are so proud here in St. John’s….stay safe as we anxiously wait for your return.

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October 1 at 9:30 pm, Linda MacPherson said:

This is why you are such an inspiration- you feel the pain and keep on going…. With you all in spirit!

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October 1 at 10:09 pm, Rosemary Marshall said:

Thank you all for your wonderful unselfish professional work. Haiti is a much better place due to BROKEN EARTH. Bless You All !!!!

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October 1 at 10:16 pm, Laura Ellsworth said:

I have goosebumps after reading this. So tragic.

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October 1 at 11:49 pm, Richard Hayes said:

Thank you…this kinda drives home how good we have it, doesn’t it? Hard to imagine the devastation that’s hit these islands, and how little the people have to cope with what has happened.

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October 2 at 12:10 am, Mae said:

So true, thank you to u & your team!

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October 2 at 1:06 am, Sheila Miller said:

That is so sad. I loss my Mom that way. She just walked across the street never to return home. My heart breaks for this young person and her family. God Bless. Thank you Andrew and team for all you do.

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October 2 at 2:21 am, Linus Kelly said:

That story is a reminder, Doctors are people first. Those Drs. who choose to deal with critical / emergency situations, must be challenged frequently to manage their own emotions. I admire how they do this and still meet the demanding expectations of those they serve.

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October 2 at 3:28 am, Laura miller said:

Keep up the good work it’s wonderful to give so much of your time to help the late unfortunate, I just wish I was younger so that I could help in some way,take care.

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October 2 at 9:58 am, Selena said:

So true Andrew. You are doing amazing work! Youband your team are angels among us! Be safe!

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October 2 at 2:04 pm, Heather Chafe said:

You and your team are doing a wonderful job. It is very inspiring to see people like you and your team who are making a difference. You really do need to tell your loved ones everyday how much you love them, you never know when a tragedy such as this one may happen.

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October 2 at 7:24 pm, Marlene Penney. said:

Heart wrenching ! Tearful now as I read this, and thanks for sharing Andrew. I recall a similar event happen on our tour to Haiti. So sad. The whole team experienced the pain and sadness. . Hugs to all. God bless you all?

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October 2 at 8:51 pm, Laura King said:

This is so true, we must love our family and friends and be sure they know they are loved. My 30 year old son died of a heart attack just a week ago. We must be kind and care for all earths’s family.

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October 3 at 12:00 am, Janet Templeton said:

Thank you to the team for all you do to make a difference on each visit.

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October 4 at 3:04 am, Barbara Williams said:

Thank You just don’t seem to cut it.

God Bless

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October 7 at 3:08 am, We are all Somebody  – equipoise life said:

[…] read a blog post this evening called Somebody’s Somebody. It was written by Dr. Andrew Furey, the orthopedic surgeon who has been the driving force behind […]

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