To the Editor:
This is a particularly troubling time for the people of Haiti and for organizations seeking to aid them.
At Haiti Cardiac Alliance, an NGO devoted to providing lifesaving cardiac surgery to Haitian children and young adults, we and our patients have suffered. We have been threatened and stopped at barricades. Bullets have whizzed past.
We ration driving because of roadblocks and fuel shortages; patients can’t travel to the hospital for appointments or medications; passports and visas have become near impossible to obtain. Costs are up, and our mettle has certainly been tested.
But it is not true that there is no hope. In mid-July we fielded a screening trip to rural Haiti. We treated more than 40 children in two days. Our “whatever it takes” philosophy has gotten over 60 more to surgery since the crisis began.
One could see Haiti as a microcosm: Global resources are scarcer, and those in unimpeded power reach for ever-diminishing spoils. At Haiti Cardiac Alliance and our partner organizations, we believe that by continuing on, patient by patient, family by family, we maintain a feeling of dignity that allows our patients and those near them to feel worthy and to stand up for themselves.
The writer is board chair of the Haiti Cardiac Alliance and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.