"I Remember..."

January 12, 2020

On January 12, 2010, Haiti was devasted by a 7.0 earthquake which killed 230,000...causing horrific pain and injury, and leaving behind massive numbers of homeless people. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Timothy Browne, who has served as a Hope Force International board member and currently as a medical Reservist, led a team of surgeons and medical professionals to minister to those who had been horribly maimed.  Here are some succinct thoughts captured by Dr. Tim as he remembers that fateful time....

I remember:jeepride

  • Driving into Haiti from the Dominican Republic in a jeep surrounded by gas cans, thinking that it’s going to be really bad if we get in an accident.
  • Crossing into Haiti and into chaos.
  • Arriving at King’s hospital and seeing the grounds covered with injured people.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.

I remember: 

  • Seeing more open fractures at one time than I could ever imagine.
  • Noticing the huge crack down the Operating Room’s supporting wall.
  • Having no power or water in the hospital and with all the modern equipment and knowledge we had … it was, for the most part, useless.dr.tim
  • The two teenage girls that sat together in the courtyard on the same mat, battered and bruised--strangers, united in tragedy as both had lost their entire families; haunting stares of emptiness.

I remember:

  • Terrible, open, dirty wounds.
  • Screams, as the hospital shook in an aftershock as patients frantically tried to flee the building.
  • Amputating a young man’s crushed lower leg.
  • A woman who laid on a mat outside for eight days with a femur fracture, who patiently waited until we got through all the open fractures.

I remember:

  • Being rocked by a 5.7 aftershock from sleep.quake
  • Seeing downtown where the buildings were turned to rubble for as far as the eye could see.
  • Families picking through the rubble of the nursing school, where all were lost.
  • The smell.
  • Driving by the woman on the corner selling shoes and thinking of the people that her pile of shoes represented.
  • Six story buildings turned into grapefruit sized piles of rubble.

I remember:

  • Thousands of volunteers working shoulder to shoulder to help.
  • The kindness and gentleness of the Haitian people.32 anestheshia machine delivered to Kings Hospital
  • Getting power and water restored to the hospital.
  • The generosity of people and companies who gave sacrificially.
  • How hard the home Hope Force team worked back home to make things happen for us in Haiti.
  • The helicopter delivering an anesthesia machine to the hospital.
  • Our young translator, Darling.
  • Other hospitals that survived, that worked tirelessly and past capacity.
  • The USS Hospital Ship Comfort.

I remember:tent.city

  • A pregnant woman brought in and bringing new life in the midst of chaos.
  • Tent cities.
  • Seeing the Haitian National Palace destroyed and thinking that no amount of power or money can protect you.
  • A resilient people.
  • Being caught in a crowd of thousands of people worshipping and praising God.

I remember:

Photo 14After a long day in the operating room, going outside to catch my breath. As I sat on the steps of the hospital--a young orphaned boy came up behind me and draped his arms over my shoulders and laid his head on my back.



 Written by HFI Reservist: Dr. Timothy D. Browne, MD

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