Haitian Amputees Needed Help Before Earthquake | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Haitian Amputees Needed Help Before Earthquake

Play associated audio

By Sabri Ben-Achour

The January earthquake that shook Haiti took countless limbs as well as lives. Volunteers continue to care for thousands of amputees there. They've found that many of those being treated have been in need long before the earthquake.

Anna Avakian holds what will become someone's leg against a grinding machine.

"We're grinding the edges and rounding them so they're smooth," Avakian says.

Avakian is with Hanger Prosthetics in Northeast Washington. She just spent three and half months in, Haiti, creating prosthetics like this one for people whose limbs had been crushed in the earthquake, or lost even before that.

"While I was there, I think we saw 200 to 300 patients," Avakian says.

Avakian remembers one woman, 21 years old, who'd lost much of both legs to infection when she was 5.

"Fitting with prostheses she was able to stand up for the first time in 16 years and I just had to hold back - still gets me choked up - and I had to hold back the tears, and she just beamed," she says.

That patient might well represent the be the bigger share of reality in Haiti. Al Ingersoll is Prosthetics and Orthotics Program Director with Healing Hands for Haiti and has worked in the country for years. He says many people who lost limbs in the quake didn't survive.

"A fair number of the injured passed away because of infections or other conditions," Ingersoll says.

He estimates maybe 10,000 people in Haiti currently need new limbs - the vast majority, 80% from before the quake. And he says the quake - and the efforts of volunteers - are actually reducing the stigma previously attached to amputees.

"You know someone who's had an amputation or an injury from the earthquake so you accept them now as they are," Ingersoll says.

Amputees will continue to be a visible presence in Haiti for many years to come. Ingersoll suspects it will be several years before all those who need new limbs receive them.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 31

Today you can rock out to some familiar tunes or check out a local band’s debut album.

NPR

How To Order Pizza From A Nuclear Command Bunker

A trip to an underground Air Force nuclear bunker becomes a unexpectedly delicious culinary experience. Just don't order the gravy bowl.
WAMU 88.5

Jonnie Williams On Stand Again Today In McDonnell Corruption Trial

Former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams will take the stand again today in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and his testimony could be key in the case.

NPR

Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?

Pinterest has created a database of things that matter to humans. And with a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, the company has begun offering what it calls "guided search."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.