North Texas doctor describes chaos during aftershock in Haiti



Posted on January 20, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 20 at 8:46 PM

Dr. Nagaraj Kikkeri is a North Texas anesthesiologist now in Haiti with a small team of nurses. They headed out Monday on a flight equipped with donated medical supplies.

The pilot, co-pilot, and fuel were donated by Grace Flight America; the medical supplies came courtesy of Lake Point Church in Rockwall and Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Dr. Kikkeri, a Highland Park father of five, felt compelled to offer his services after seeing harsh images of wounded children getting limbs amputated without the area being numbed and with no pain medication.

Three days into the mercy mission, his effort was halted for a short time by Wednesday's 5.9 aftershock.

"People are screaming and running out of any building that they are in," Dr. Kikkeri said.

After the panic set in, there was a gruesome scene outside the hospital where patients were running to safety.

"One young boy who got so scared of the tremor, he started running on his fresh-cut stump of his leg," Dr. Kikkeri said. "He was in so much pain, but he could care — less he wanted to save his life."

Dr. Kikkeri said his mission is to try to make surgery less traumatic to earthquake victims, who are even more fragile this time around — still wondering when the aftershocks will stop.

"The people here are so edgy that even a little thing will shake them apart," he said. "They have gone through a really, really, really traumatic phase, and they don't want to see the repetition, and they felt there was a major one coming."

There have now been 40 aftershocks since the earthquake hit eight days ago, but Wednesday's was by far the largest.

Dr. Kikkeri said there is only one other anesthesiologist in the hospital where he is working in Port-au-Prince, so they face a daunting task.

One concern he has is for a Canadian woman whose condition is so severe she can barely talk. Dr. Kikerri fears the victim will take a turn for the worse.

The doctor has been trying to reach the Canadian government to get a military plane to Haiti to transport her to a better-equipped medical facility.