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American Academy of Ophthalmology
Dispatch from Haiti: Everyone Tells You Their Story
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Mildred Olivier, MD | Midwest Glaucoma Center
Academy member Mildred Olivier has been traveling to Haiti two to three times per year since 1993. She is currently in Haiti providing medical care through Wednesday, January 27. During her time there she will be reaching out to ophthalmologists and sending updates from the field to the Academy.  Below is the first update, transcribed by the Academy on January 21, 2010

Transcribed Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

I was working all week trying to connect to Haiti. We have supplies donated from a variety of hospitals in the area (Hoffman Estates, Illinois). It is still just the beginning of my journey but we have had some peaks and valleys trying to get into the country.

Eventually we were able to get on a flight. United has donated 30 flights to Haiti – priority goes to medical personnel and supplies - water, food, safety and medical. Depending on the supply cargo, weight determines how many volunteers can go. There were 70 people on our flight. Once in Haiti, they drop off the supplies and can return with about 200 people. There are several airlines – competitors - working together to help the people of Haiti.

We were picked up at the airport and it allowed us to see devastation. It is one thing to see it on TV another things to see the capital city destroyed. We went through downtown and saw street after street of cement piles. Fortunately by the time many of the bodies that were in the streets have been moved to morgue.

People are very hungry. They tell you their stories - even the lady taking us around. She was on the second floor of her pharmacy when it collapsed and was able to escape through a hole.

I have been receiving regular e-mails from ophthalmology colleagues. Most of their houses and clinics have been destroyed. Some are living in hotels. One doctor has 100  people in his backyard that he is caring for.

Everyone needs food and water. Even for the short time we have been here – it is very hot, dehydrated. You can see the devastation. Our medical supplies will be available tomorrow. We will go to hospital and meet with ophthalmologists to see how we can help.

Today we saw an orphanage that was seriously damaged. The orphans are all living across street under blue blanket - about 32 of them. We had chocolate to give them. We took pictures and they are smiling and so happy and it was a glimmer of hope that the future is better in Haiti.

– end Transcript –

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