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February 9th, 2010
11:55 AM ET

Survivor buried 4 weeks?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has returned to Haiti on assignment. In this piece, he reports on a quake survivor who may have been trapped in debris for four weeks.


February 9th, 2010
09:34 AM ET

Returning to Haiti. Tipping the scales of faith.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Medical Chief Correspondent

When I told my wife I wanted to go back to Haiti, she had the reaction I expected. “The girls really missed you when you were gone last time,” she said. “I am worried that you lost too much weight down there,” she added. And, “what about your safety, physical and mental well being?” she concluded. They were all the reactions I expected. The car was then silent as we were driving through our neighborhood on a rainy Saturday morning. In that quiet, we both realized something essential. I knew she was right, on all counts. And, still, she knew it was the right thing to do. She was the first to speak and break the silence. “Truth is, I would go with you,” she whispered. “I would like to help as well.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Port-Au-Prince hospital.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Port-Au-Prince hospital.

I thought about that conversation a lot on the middle-of-the-night flight to Florida, a connection to Santo Domingo at 3 a.m. and then finally the early morning arrival in Port-au-Prince. She has seen the images on television of the unfathomable suffering over the last month, and she was affected by it in more ways than I realized. Over the few days I was home, we hardly talked about what I had seen in Haiti. I felt the need to protect her from those stories, some of which I may never share with anyone - and she was cognizant of the desire to not re open the emotional images. She also knew that while I was physically home, my mind never left Haiti.

Most of the time I was in Haiti, I was a doctor. With the cameras off, I saw patient after patient, most of them with head injuries and with no access to a neurosurgeon. Many of them needed reassurance, and a few needed emergent operations. As a reporter, I was able to help highlight the stark difference between most international aid, and medical aid. In short, the requirement for medical aid was immediate –measured literally in minutes and hours. If action wasn’t taken, and quickly, people would die that could’ve been saved. As a father, I held a lot of small hands and offered a soothing voice, to children whose parents had been lost.

So many times over the past month, I had my faith completely trashed as I saw unjustified loss of life and suffering. I saw amputations being performed without adequate anesthesia as nurses and doctors held down a patient while performing brutal operations. I saw the tears running down those same nurses and doctors cheeks while their faces were steeled with desperation, determination and a little anger at the awful position they were all in together.

But, I also had moments where my faith was restored. Small improvements in water distribution, a slow trickle of supplies turning into a river of good will, a rush of health care providers and private citizens with sleeves rolled up and grit on their skin. Like my wife, they all wanted to help, in any way possible.

If you look throughout the history of our own lives, there are a few occasions when we see something that galvanizes the entire world. In a world where there is too much bickering about politics, and too much fascination with pop culture, every now and then people simply come together. I returned to Haiti because I wanted to show the slow but inevitable medical recovery happening here. People should not forget what has happened and what will be necessary for a long time to come. I returned because I wanted to remind people of the relentless and extraordinary resolve of the beautiful Haitian people. I came back because the story I am telling is of the scales of faith being tipped here, just a little bit.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


January 29th, 2010
02:00 PM ET

Haiti babies' survival unsure

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was on assignment in Haiti. On Thursday he reported on the challenges facing newborns in earthquake-devastated Haiti.


January 28th, 2010
02:14 PM ET

Health of rescued girl

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been on assignment in Haiti, covering the earthquake aftermath. He talks about the girl pulled from the rubble after 15 days and answers other questions.


Filed under: Haiti

January 26th, 2010
06:08 PM ET

It's just survival

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

A couple of days ago, a man was stoned to death about a block from where we are staying in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I have been down here nearly two weeks covering the earthquake devastation, having arrived quickly the morning after it occurred. I didn’t see the stoning myself, but several of my colleagues described a man who had been trying to steal money and was met with swift and deadly citizen justice. A lot was made of this particular tragedy, and if you caught only that headline, you might be left believing the incident was in some way emblematic of what was happening all over the place. Truth is, even though I braced myself to see rampant lawlessness and mob hostility, I wanted to blog about what I have actually seen.

As I drove through the streets of Port-au-Prince, just 16 hours after the earthquake, I was met with stunned stares and unfathomable grief, as parents tried to dig their babies out of the rubble and older kids did the same for their parents. It was heartbreaking. And though we raced out with our first aid bags to help those we could, it seemed like we would never be able to make a dent in the suffering. There were people who died in this earthquake and those who lived – but there were also a large number of people somehow caught in between. They were alive, but terribly injured and dying. That is where we focused our attention. Terrible crush injuries of arms and legs. Degloving injuries, where the skin of the arms or legs was ripped away. And, people so malnourished and dehydrated that they could barely walk.

I expected to see those stunned stares turn to desperation, and that desperation turn to brutality. It didn’t. In fact, I remember driving by a water station that had finally opened on January 18th, five days after the earthquake struck. It stayed in my mind for two reasons. First of all, five days is a long time to go with little to no water, especially in Haiti heat. Second of all, there was no pushing, shoving or aggressive behavior. There were no armed guards and there was a tight line, with people waiting patiently. Some were even singing songs, while blistering away in the heat. I almost cried. A piece of my faith in humanity, which had been trashed by too many terrible images, was slowly restored.

A couple of days later, I was seeing patients at one of the hospitals in downtown. It was actually more of a tent city situated outside the hospital, where care was sparse and misery was thick. Helping care for wounds, evaluate injuries and even perform surgery – every single patient said thank you, in Creole, French and English. Thank you. When recounting this to a neurosurgery colleague of mine, he reminded me that we could often go months working at a county hospital in the states without ever hearing those two words.

Over the last two weeks, I have not seen the violence Haiti has been known for in years past. During this time, when lawlessness had been put to the test, it seems the people of Port-au-Prince stood tall, dignified and with respect for one another. Yes, there has been “looting” from stores of supplies. But, is “looting” even the correct term for people taking basic necessities for themselves and their families? Instead, it is just survival, and faced with the same situation, I would’ve likely been right there with them, wanting to preserve the lives of my wife and children.

Consider this a blog that went beyond a headline, and presented a reporter’s on-the-ground view of this very important issue. I won’t pretend that this is more than a slice of life in the aftermath of a terrible natural disaster, but it is my slice, and I wanted to share it with you. Thank you – for reading it.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


January 26th, 2010
03:05 PM ET

Doctors crowd Haitian hospital

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Haiti. He checks in on doctors who have traveled to Haiti and are preparing to treat injured patients.


January 26th, 2010
03:05 PM ET

CNN crew overnight in Haiti field hospital

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Haiti. He and his crew take care of earthquake victims overnight at a field hospital.


January 26th, 2010
03:04 PM ET

Overnight in Haiti field hospital

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Haiti. He and his crew discuss how they were pulled into action, with CNN producer Danielle Dellorto turned "nurse" and his cameraman turned "medic" to care for quake victims overnight in Haiti.


January 26th, 2010
03:04 PM ET

Fears paralyze many Haiti survivors

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Haiti. He reports that PTSD and fear of another quake are paralyzing many survivors in Haiti.


January 26th, 2010
03:03 PM ET

Haitians' needs run deep

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on assignment in Haiti. He reports how the needs of Haitians will be extensive, from shelter to prosthetics.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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