School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

SOM doctors and residents treating earthquake victims in Haiti

School of Medicine physicians treated this 8-year-old girl, whose leg had to be amputated below the knee after she was pulled from the wreckage of a building. She is holding a teddy bear donated by Leland Babitch, M.D., assistant professor of WSU Pediatrics and medical information officer for the Detroit Medical Center.

School of Medicine physicians treated this 8-year-old girl, whose leg had to be amputated below the knee after she was pulled from the wreckage of a building. She is holding a teddy bear donated by Leland Babitch, M.D., assistant professor of WSU Pediatrics and medical information officer for the Detroit Medical Center.

Bonnie Stanton, M.D.

Bonnie Stanton, M.D.

Michael Callaghan, M.D.

Michael Callaghan, M.D.

Melissa Barton, M.D.

Melissa Barton, M.D.

Faculty and residents of the Wayne State University School of Medicine are in Haiti providing medical care to earthquake victims thanks to arrangements made by Detroit Lions offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus.

Those now in Haiti include Bonita Stanton, M.D., the Schotanus Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Michigan; Michael Callaghan, M.D., assistant professor of the Department of Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology Division; and Melissa Barton, M.D., professor of the Department of Emergency Medicine and director of the Wayne State University Sinai-Grace Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

Four residents in the Department of Emergency Medicine -- Shannon Langston, M.D.; Tariq Shihabuddin, M.D.; Daniel Ridelman, M.D.; and Michael Gerstein, M.D. -- are also on the mission.

The physicians left for Haiti on Jan. 23 and are scheduled to return Thursday. They are living at the home of Cherilus’s uncle when not treating victims of the earthquake that struck the country Jan. 12.

Dr. Stanton, interviewed by e-mail Tuesday, said the group is treating patients at locations in Port au Prince, in hospitals and in tent cities. She described “massive destruction” of buildings, and said many functioning hospitals and clinics are forced to treat patients outdoors because they have collapsed or suffered structural damage.

The physicians, she said, are treating for amputations, infection, labor and delivery, and diarrhea.

In addition to 40 bins of medicine and medical supplies, the group also brought stuffed animals to give to children. The doctors also brought supplies for an orphanage that normally houses 30 children, but which now cares for more than 150.

Dr. Stanton said “massive supplies” are arriving in Port au Prince. However, she noted that “distribution is a terrible problem.”

“These doctors are living the spirit of our school,” said Valerie Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., interim dean of the School of Medicine. “Our faculty and students have a longstanding reputation of providing care to those who need it most and can least afford it. This mission to help the earthquake victims in Haiti is the latest example of that dedication.”

Cherilus was born in Haiti in 1984 and lived there until age 14 when his immediate family moved to the United States. After high school, he attended and played football for Boston College. The Detroit Lions drafted him in 2008, and in 2009 he founded the Gosder Cherilus Foundation. With the tragedy in Haiti still unfolding, he has turned the foundation’s full attention to assisting the victims there. Cherilus still has family members in Haiti. Some died in the earthquake.

Working with Haiti Outreach Mission, based in Troy, Mich., Cherilus and friend Pat Lynch quickly assembled the team of 10 to 15 volunteer doctors and nurses to fly to Haiti. The team is providing treatment at a small, undamaged hospital outside of the capitol of Port au Prince.

“If a natural disaster is really what it takes for the whole world to realize what was going on in Haiti, shame on all of us,” Cherilus said on the Detroit Lions Web site. “But my whole goal is that Haiti will get out of this situation better than it was. I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t even think I should say everything happens for a reason, because I don’t think all those people had to die to really get all the help that we need. Let’s just hope we can make a difference.”

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