In 2010, Israel joined the global effort in assisting Haiti’s earthquake victims, treating more than 1,110 patients, completing 319 successful surgeries and delivering 16 births. The humanitarian delegation consisted of 220 people and included a field hospital and a rescue unit.
Here are four of the most amazing stories.
1. Rescued after 10 days under the rubble
An IDF search and rescue team in Port-au-Prince rescued a 22 year old man who had been trapped under the rubble of a collapsed three story building near the presidential palace for nearly ten days. The team was directed to the location of the trapped man by local residents. He was taken to the IDF field hospital in stable condition to receive further medical treatment.
Initially, a team of American and French doctors tried saving the trapped man but were unable to release him. They called upon the Israeli delegation’s search and rescue team who freed the man from the rubble within half an hour.
2. Regaining sight – with some help from a Voodoo ceremony
Major Keren Ginat joined the delegation with a role no less important than rescuing locals – maintaining the mental health of the members of the rescue team, given the difficult situations they would be exposed to. Even so, when she could help locals she didn’t give it a second thought.
When a blind woman with the inability to walk came to the IDF field hospital, the ophthalmologists found nothing wrong with her optic nerves. Apparently, the cause of her blindness was her brain protecting her from a harsh experience. Major Ginat examined her, and during the course of their conversation, discovered that the woman believed in Voodoo. Major Ginat decided to use the woman’s beliefs to help heal her – and performed a Voodoo ceremony on the woman. With Major Ginat’s help, the woman started regaining her sight.
3. Mother and baby saved
Saraya, a 16 year old girl, was about to give birth to her first child a few days after the earthquake. Saraya went into labor on the street, and there was much concern regarding her medical condition. Her baby seemed to be in the wrong position and the liquid that was supposed to be clear was brown, which indicated that the baby had an infection. She was in need of a Caesarean section, and had to find a doctor and an operating room.
Luckily, she was able to get to the IDF field hospital, where the doctors discovered that she had pre-eclampsia, a common killer of pregnant women in Haiti. In order to save her life, the baby had to be delivered right away. With the dedicated care of the Israeli doctors, both the baby and Saraya were saved.
4. Boy diagnosed with Leukemia, sent overseas for treatment
Mike, a four year old Haitian boy, was brought to the IDF field hospital by his father, suffering from vomiting and weakness. Mike, his two siblings and his parents had been living on the street ever since their house had been destroyed during the earthquake.
The doctors ran blood tests and diagnosed Mike with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. As a result, he needed chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Because the IDF field hospital was not equipped to deal with such long-term and complex treatments, we asked for help from any organization that could arrange for him to be transferred to a hospital in the United States. There was an overwhelming and rapid response from many different individuals and organizations, and in less than one day a private charity came to the field hospital and took Mike to the Miami hospital for proper treatment and care.