The devastating aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti has prompted a team of Memphis doctors, organized by Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, to head to Haiti. Their main priority: Haitian children.
Doctor Sunny Anand, director of critical care at Le Bonheur, is leading the medical team into Haiti. The group, which includes 14 medical professionals, left January 30th, and is planning to stay about two weeks. They will see up to 150 patients and perform up to 25 surgeries each day.
Anand says they are especially concerned about the welfare of Haiti's youngest citizens.
"In natural disasters, children are often neglected," Anand says. "We know that is happening in Haiti."
Le Bonheur was one of only three hospitals asked by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to respond to Haiti with pediatric aid.
"When you have to sit like this with no medical facilities available, the stronger of the adults will push their way into a crowded emergency room," Anand says. "But what about the children? Time is going on, and they are more likely to get infections."
Le Bonheur is already familiar with Haiti.
The medical team will be working at the Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis, a primary-care health clinic near Port-au-Prince opened by Memphis doctors nearly 13 years ago.
While waiting on a federal aid grant after last month's earthquake, Le Bonheur CEO Meri Armour approached Medical Missions about a private effort into Haiti. Now, instead of being dispersed to multiple hospitals in Haiti, the entire Memphis team will see patients at the clinic.
Several Memphis-based corporations also have provided financial support and supplies for the trip: FedEx flew transport personnel and supplies to Haiti, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital contributed medication and other pharmaceutical supplies, and the Shelby County Health Department donated vaccines for the medical team.