For Haitian Children, a Crisis Escalates

For Haitian Children, a Crisis Escalates

Bureaucratic red tape prevents the airlift of critically injured earthquake victims to the U.S., where lifesaving medical care awaits them. (NYT)

Dr. Shayan Vyas, a pediatrician from Miami Children’s Hospital, can barely contain his emotions as he describes the desperate plight of the hundreds of injured Haitian children who are being treated at a tent hospital near the Port-au-Prince airport.

Previously, critical cases were routinely being evacuated to the U.S. where more sophisticated equipment and medicines are available. They are now being hindered by paperwork requirements stemming from the arrest of ten Americans for trying to take children out of Haiti. New legal restrictions on the pilots and aid workers, compounded by the general chaos of the earthquake’s aftermath, has meant that doctors are unable to transfer their critically ill patients in a timely manner, if at all.

In this New York Times video, Dr. Vyas points to cases such as a girl whose foot was amputated to extricate her from the rubble, and who now has lost her other foot because proper treatment for her infection was unavailable. Other children have been left basically untreated for three weeks and are dying, he says, because surgery is impossible in these primitive conditions and they lack the documents enabling them to leave the country. The faces of the children and their parents are heart wrenching, and the paperwork obstacles seem absurd, when lifesaving treatment is just a short plane ride away.

Length: 6:01

By Erik Olsen and Ian Urbina