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Haiti’s Quake Leaves Behind a Generation of Child Amputees

February 2, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In the wake of last month's horrifying earthquake, Port-au-Prince's hospitals are packed full of children with missing limbs. Emma Murphy of Independent Television News reports.

TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: And now to Haiti, three weeks to the day after the earthquake.

Thousands still live in tents. Many don’t have enough to eat. U.N. officials today called the security situation volatile. And, meanwhile, doctors and nurses are coping with the injured, among them, many children.

Emma Murphy of Independent Television News has that part of the story.

A warning: The images are disturbing and difficult to watch.

EMMA MURPHY: He’s too young to say what Haiti’s earthquake did to him, but his tormented eyes offer a clue. A look at his mutilated little body tells you the rest. The child is only 2, yet McKinley’s mother will never again feel her baby cling to her, both his arms now gone.

At two months old, this little girl will never know what life was like without a disability, her leg lost along with her family home. Port-au-Prince’s hospitals are packed full of children like this, a tragic generation who had hardly learned what to do with their limbs before they lost them.

Childhood has never been easy in Haiti, but what of these little ones? They’re missing arms, they’re missing legs, and they are facing a most uncertain future.

Gena Heraty is a nurse with the Irish charity NPH. With the earthquake compounding grinding poverty, she is now trying to find people to sponsor children like these.

GENA HERATY, NPH International Children’s Hospital: They don’t know what the future is. They don’t have any homes. There’s rubble. If they get a wheelchair, where would they put it in the middle of the rubble? If they get crutches, how will you hobble around on bricks and mortar?

EMMA MURPHY: Any chance of mobility depends on prosthetic experts like Al Ingersoll. He’s returning to the workshop for the first time since the quake.

AL INGERSOLL, Handicap International: Wow. Some parts look OK. Some parts look totally unusable. Hopefully, we can get a plan put together quickly and get something reopened. I mean, this was about 75 percent done. And it even has the shoe on it already. Just makes you wonder if she survived.

EMMA MURPHY: And, yet, in the midst of the tragedy, an example of enduring spirit. Darlene is 24. She sung her way through the loss of arm and leg, inspiring those who have treated her.

DR. STEPHANE HOUMEAU, French fire and rescue team: I have never seen a girl like her, because, even though she has been amputated an arm and a leg, she has dreams. She wants to move forward. She knows it is going to be hard.

EMMA MURPHY: Her dream is to be a nurse, a nurse who will treat children without limbs, and know all too well the challenges of their lives.