2 | 3 |
4 | 5 |
6 | 7
many, it is all they can do. In the short amount of time they have
in Lima, the doctors cannot possibly address every case. "We have
to say no to so many of them," Alejos laments.
in unfamiliar surroundings, with unfamiliar equipment (some of it
more than 20 years old) and struggling to communicate in an unfamiliar
language, improvisation becomes the key to survival. When a 13-year-old
girl goes into full cardiac arrest on the operating table, surgeons
Sadeghi and Meada are stunned to learn that the O.R. is not equipped
with internal paddles -- slender prongs that would fit inside the
open chest cavity -- for the defibrillator machine to jump-start
her stopped heart. Given no other choice, the two fashion their
own internal paddles, wrapping two pairs of forceps in saline-soaked
gauze, placing them against the child's still, exposed heart and
touching them with the broad, flat paddles of the defibrillator.
The result is a loud ZAP! and a brief funnel of sparks. The girl
returns to life.
it is the doctors themselves who suffer the consequences of mechanical
failures. In the middle of one operation, anesthesiologist Howard
Chait reaches to adjust the setting on a monitor, lets out a sudden
loud groan and staggers backward after receiving a strong jolt of
electricity from a short circuit. Later in the O.R., someone smells
something burning; it turns out to be an electrical cord in a wall
socket. A nurse reaches down, pulls the cord from the wall, waves
it in the air for a few moments to let it cool and then plugs it
back into the same outlet. The American doctors just shake their
heads and return to work.
fact is, things have improved since Alejos' first visit in 1995
when a gowned and masked hospital mechanic, tools in hand, had to
attend each surgery in case the aging heart bypass machine broke
down. There is newer equipment now, much of it donated from abroad.
Yet, one doctor observes that much of what he sees looks like it
should be on display in a medical museum.