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Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s stunning report from Haiti

Jan 19, 2010

This morning, I learned that NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman is in Haiti, so I emailed her to ask how she's doing there. She replied within minutes--with a riveting in-the-field report. A prominent head and neck surgeon whose diverse career includes a stint as VP of Medical Affairs at Johnson & Johnson , Snyderman told me she's game to share her report. Here's her report from Haiti:

by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor, NBC News

This is profoundly overwhelming. The smell of death, decaying bodies, and despair is everywhere.

I have worked whenever possible triaging patients and sewing patients up, operating to clean dirty wounds. But there aren't enough hands on the ground.

The bodies keep coming--in wheelbarrows, on mattresses and on shoulders. Limbs are infected, and the theme of the day is amputation or die.

The race now is against the clock. Those who could have survived the quake are out, and bodies that are trapped are likely being eaten by the rats.

Piles of dead bodies dot the streets. The hospitals have no choice other than to lay the dead outside the gates and hope they will be picked up. For public health reasons, there are funeral pyres and mass graves.

But the clock is ticking for supplies to get to those who desperately need them. The planes arrive, unload crates and the system deteriorates from there. Nothing seems to be trickling to the hospitals, clinics or patients.

The clock is also ticking for those who are infected and need emergent help.

The clock is also ticking with the heat and the weather.

So far, if there is a silver lining, it has been hot, but there has been no rain. But this afternoon, the clouds are thickening and it is sprinkling and the clock keeps ticking.

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