Surgeon returns from treating patients in Haiti - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Surgeon returns from treating patients in Haiti


By Jeff Angileri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- For surgeon Craig Dopf, the high-tech operating rooms of Meriter Hospital are a world away from the makeshift ORs in Haiti.

"It was just unbelievable," he said. "In an area the size of a football field, you could have 5,000 to 10,000 people living. There was no sanitation."

Dopf is back from a week-long medical mission in the earthquake-stricken country, where he and three ER doctors treated up to 150 people a day.

They arrived by helicopter in Leogane, just west of Port-au-Prince, with 165 pounds of supplies -- medication, sedatives, and antibiotics -- donated by Meriter hospital. There, they turned a former school dormitory into an operating room.

But in a country lacking surgical tools, Dopf still had to improvise.

"We were able to find a hacksaw, kitchen knives. We used a rasp to smooth out the bone -- we got it from a local carpenter."

Dopf described the brutal conditions, where temperatures topped 100 degrees on most days. And often, during surgery, the island rumbled.

"When we were in the operating room and we had these aftershocks, we all looked at each other like should we run, should we stay, what should we do?"

And with no medical records -- paper or electronic -- doctor's orders were written right on the cast.

"I did roughly 20 amputees, and for multiple other patients we cleaned out wounds filled with dirt and concrete."

Dopf says he will never forget the resilience of the Haitian people, or what he calls the selfless sacrifice of relief workers.

"Everyone was grateful. Every operation we did was literally life saving. Without it, the patients would eventually develop infections an die."

Dopf says his colleagues at Meriter covered his shifts, and took care of his patients while he was gone.

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