“The last day at the clinic, a mother arrived with an 8-month-old baby. The baby seemed to be healthy, but had bilateral cataracts. (Both eyes) The team was not planning to work on young babies. In fact, they had agreed not to operate on anyone younger than 2-years-old… Unfortunately, the reality of the situation in Haiti, this might be this babies one chance in life to have her vision restored. They had the equipment. They had the donated supplies. They certainly had the skills. It was now or perhaps never.
The first question: Had the baby eaten today? Early in the morning she had breast milk. That would delay the surgery until the end of the day.
The second question: Operate on one eye, and hope to come back and do the other, or take the chance and do both? Dr. Thompson has had several trips canceled do to ‘unrest’ in Haiti, so after consulting with the team, and the mother, he decided it was best to do both eyes.
The third question: Would they be able to find a vein and start an I.V.? Roseberline was a beautiful baby. Healthy with lots of baby fat. Not easy to find a vein. Fortunately at the clinic they had Germana, an amazing Haitian nurse that had the ability to smile, keeping everyone calm. She was also able to start an I.V. on almost anyone. The baby was brought into the room… sedated, and the team went to work.
When the baby was ready, Dr. Thompson focused the microscope, picked up the scalpel and made a tiny incision. The anesthesiologists checked the vitals and made adjustments to keep the numbers where they needed to be. The team worked well tougher. It was their third long day and the 45th patient. Each patient was special… but everyone felt that this one was a bit extra-special.
When the first eye was finished, the surgical instruments were traded for a new set. The team went to work on the next eye. All of the vital signs looked good. The machines beeped happy sounds, reinforcing that the baby’s heart was healthy, and her little lungs were pumping. There was a bit more relaxed chatter in the O.R., and a few minutes later, Dr. Thompson rotated the microscope away from little Roseberline, smiled, and stood up.
Eye drops. Bandages. A stretcher brought the baby to her smiling mother.
The team left the room and went to the other O.R. where Mr Milfort, an 89-year-old man was patiently lying on the table, waiting to have his sight restored.” Photos and Story by Jay Farbman.