For immediate release
Contact: Noel Lloyd
A TRIP OF HIGHS AND LOWS
Sacramento Doctor Greg Bellig
Serves at Hospital in Haiti
Lemoyne, Pa. January 29, 2010: Dr. Greg Bellig, his wife, Julie, and three children have a daily tradition. Every evening, they play a game called Hi/Low where each person will talk about his or her individual “high” and “low” for the day.
Over the last week, the highs and lows of daily life became a lot more intense for Dr. Bellig, a Sacramento-area anesthesiologist, as he spent a week in Haiti volunteering at the Haitian Community Hospital in Port-au-Prince.
“Life takes on a whole new meaning when in the same day your low is watching a little girl have her foot amputated, and your high is being able to help save a life,” said Dr. Bellig.
Dr. Bellig had the chance to join the Haiti relief effort as part of a team sent by CURE International in support of its work in Haiti. CURE had one of the first surgical teams on the ground just days after the earthquake on January 12.
A few days after the disaster, through an email from CURE, Dr. Bellig found out about the need for doctors in Haiti. So he offered his services. Forty-eight hours later, he was on a plane from Dallas bound for Haiti.
Once on the ground in Haiti, his first impression was disbelief. “It was just shocking how downtrodden everything was. I was not totally prepared for what I saw,” he explained.
Within a few hours, Dr. Bellig found himself inside a medical setting he’d never experienced before.
“I realized how easy it is to take for granted all of the supplies we have here in America,” he said. “In Haiti, I didn’t have my regular equipment on hand. We used what was available.”
Dr. Bellig also didn’t keep to regular hours. He worked nonstop to treat the never-ending stream of patients in need of surgical care.
“On one day, our surgical caseload was 12 femur fractures, a left arm fracture, several wound debridements and a precious little 8-year-old girl who had to have her leg removed below the knee,” he said.
Faces of the victims, like that of the 8-year-old girl, struck a chord with Dr. Bellig.
Like many other Haitian survivors, the 8-year-old girl and her mother were affected by the quake both physically and emotionally. The girl was sick and scared when she came to the hospital. After receiving treatment, however, both the girl and her mother were smiling and happy, grateful for the care they had received, according to Dr. Bellig.
The doctor worked side-by-side with an international team of about 100 medical professionals. In such challenging conditions, he developed a quick bond with his colleagues.
“I will always remember the amazing spirit of the team I worked with at the Community Hospital,” he said. “Despite the language barrier, we all came together to help these patients.”
When he wasn’t in surgery, Dr. Bellig found time to catch a quick nap on the roof of the hospital or eat a meal of MREs or rice and beans.
Dr. Bellig left Haiti contemplating the highs and lows of the week, certain that he’ll never have such a range of emotions again. He also will never forget what he saw, the people he worked with and the Haitians he was able to reach with his medical expertise.
“I’ll never be able to fully explain what this trip meant to me,” he said. “All I can say is that I hope I made a small difference in the lives of these people, and I pray for their continued recovery. I am grateful to CURE International for giving me this chance to be a part of its team.”
Dr. Bellig is available for interviews starting Monday, February 1. To arrange an interview with him, please contact Noel Lloyd at 717-724-4037 or send an email to [email protected].
For ongoing updates about CURE’s work in Haiti, please visit blog.helpcurenow.org.
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©2010, Cure International