Nurse returns from Haiti, life changing experience - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/25/10

Nurse returns from Haiti, life changing experience

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A local nurse is back at home after volunteering in Haiti to help victims of last month's devastating earthquake. Covenant RN Chris Welch used up all her vacation time and some of her husband's to stay in Haiti for three weeks, and now she's already planning a trip back.

"It was worse than I expected," said Welch. Her eyes turned glossy as she described in detail her stay in Haiti. While there with a group from the University of Miami, Welch's team worked on 12 to 30 cases a day. In all she helped around  100 people during her short stay.

The majority of Haitians Welch helped had serious infections in wounds, many leading to amputations. "Amputees are not going to have an easy life in Haiti. There's no way that wheelchairs are an option. The roads are not paved. Many people prior to the earthquake had no jobs and existed on very little, so with them not being able to walk they feel that they have no future," said Welch.

Welch said her team had to be very careful both ethically and morally when treating patients needing amputations. Some refused the surgery, knowing the deadly consequences. "I had one lady that was six months pregnant and she was very infected and she didn't not want an amputation. She understood that it was her life and her baby's life and we just had to respect her wishes," said Welch.

Malaria, Typhoid, TB, the list of infections went on and on. Those infected would stay in isolation tents to prevent spreading the diseases. "Unfortunately we had to use one of the isolation tents as a temporary morgue because we didn't have an incinerator on the compound that was hard," said Welch.

But there was one memory Welch will never forget. "The one thing that really, just really got to me. We had an 18 year old boy that had been injured in the earthquake. A spinal injury." Welch said a team of neurosurgeons came in to operate on the boys back, but he would still remain paralyzed.

"His name was Darcie and I was telling him everything was ok and surgery went well. He asked me to turn him back over and to let him just go back to sleep, that he had no life and was not able to support himself or his family. He felt he had no future," said Welch beginning to cry."I think that's what's going to take me back there, I want to check up on Darcie," she said.

"For me, yes I want to go back. If I didn't' have family here I don't think I would have come home to be honest because there's so much to do," said Welch. She is planning to go back in May as soon as she saves up enough money and time.

"I hope it opens lots of peoples eyes and they realize that the Haitians are primarily Christian people that just want to be given a chance," she said.

Welch says she helped around 100 people while there and that  she expects to go back sometime in May, but first she'll have to save up some money and time since she already used all her vacation time.

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