GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - While help was arriving in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti,it was slow to arrive in Petit Goave -- a small town 40 miles away.
For nearly a week after the earthquake, the injured waited --men, women and children with broken arms and legs, deep cuts, manyneeding surgery or amputations.
Then, on Sunday, a team of nine doctors and nurses --including two doctors from West Michigan -- arrived in the back ofa rickety truck.
Dr. William Cunningham, the chief medical officerat Metro Health in Grand Rapids, was one of them -- flying first toPort-au-Prince on an Amway jet.
"The families, if there was a family intact, were bringing intheir children, or the people were coming in on blankets, and theseinjuries were a week old, and nobody had treated them," Cunninghamsaid.
Led by Dr. Steve Edmonson, a Metro Health doctor fromSaranac, they set up at an old church camp on the coast --performed surgery in a room lit with portable lights, with norunning water.
"We didn't have any anesthesia, so the amputations they'dhave to do, they'd have to do that under local."
Cunningham worked beneath a blue tarp in a yard, often with30 or 40 people watching, setting broken bones, putting on castsand splints.
"It never stopped. When we would stop at 6 o'clock, you'dlook over and you'd see 50 people that we haven't treated."
There are images he won't forget -- the young boy with theback of his scalp torn from his skull. A falling brick had struckhim in the head. His mother washed the wound and wrapped it in acloth. The team stitched him up.
There was the little boy dug out after a week buried inrubble -- with only scratches and dehydrated. He woke up after fourhours of treatment, then reached out for a toy.
Then, he ran off with his cousins. He'd lost the rest of hisfamily.
"You'd have these young kids bringing these little, tiny kidsand you'd say to the interpreter, 'Where's the mom and dad?' andthey were all gone."
He was moved by the people, and their gratitude.
Cunningham was riding in a truck, stuck in traffic, when anold man with tattered clothes banged on the window and asked him:"Water?" The guide turned the man away.
"We moved probably about 10 feet, and the same old man cameup about five minutes later, knocked on my door and had a glass ofwater, and he said, here's the water -- for me."
"Here he is, no home, on the street, injured and he sees thatwe're doctors, and he's sitting there, trying to give us water.That's what's tough to describe -- the people."
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Those receiving the 2013 White House holiday card will see a design made by a Grand Rapids artist.