There is still a significant need for crutches in Haiti! A family of orthopedic surgeons - Dr. Aldo Vitale from Lutheran Medical Center and Dr. Mark Vitale and Michael Vitale from Columbia University Medical Center - recently returned from a volunteer trip serving patients at Adventist Hospital in Haiti where they performed approximately 60 surgeries! Their experiences underscore the importance of having appropriate mobility devices such as crutches and wheelchairs in the early critical stages of healing.  

The photos and stories shared below by Dr. Mark Vitale will give you a taste of the important role that crutches can play in these adolescents' lives and how your donations will make a difference! He also highlights that there is still a critical need for children's forearm crutches and adult wheelchairs (such as roughriders)! 

 Adolescent with severe Blount's disease with crutches:  Estephanie B., a 12-year-old Haitian girl, has a severe growth deformity of both of her tibias called Blount's disease, which causes the knees to angulate outward.  In the United States this condition is usually recognized early and treated with bracing or surgical intervention before the deformity could progress to such a debilitating stage.  Her disease has made it extremely difficult for her to walk without an assistive device, and she was fortunate to have received a pair of axillary crutches to help her ambulate.  The picture of her on the bed depicts Estafanie one day after a large surgery to correct her deformity performed by a team of volunteer surgeons - including Dr. Michael Vitale, Dr. Mark Vitale, Dr. Charley Jobin and Dr. Terry Dietrich - visiting Adventist Hopital d'Haiti in Port-au-Prince.  The surgery involved making several corrective cuts in the tibia and using an external fixator to gradually correct her deformity to make her legs straight. During the healing process of this surgery, which will take 3-6 months, she will continue to need axillary crutches to protect her weight bearing and assist in her getting around to do everyday tasks.  Estefanie and her parents were extremely grateful for her care.

Therapists teaching patient to use crutches:  Giovanni F. and Franz B., two skilled physical therapists at Adventist Hopital d'Haiti in Port-au-Prince, are teaching young Roseline D. how to use crutches after she received surgery to repair a broken kneecap.  

Teenager with crutches:  This teenager from Port-au-Prince sustained a fracture to his knee several months ago, and is continuing to rehabilitate his injured leg with the help of local physical therapists at Adventist Hopital d'Haiti.  While his injury to his knee heals it is crucial that he does not place too much weight on the recovering articular cartilage of his knee, so his simple axillary crutches are vital to his ability to recover from this debilitating injury.  

Haitian teenager:  Jean R. sustained a severe open fracture of his right femur in the earthquake on January 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince.  His femur fracture did not heal because of an ensuing infection, and he required multiple surgeries to eradicate the infection and provide stabilty to his femur to allow healing.  He unfortunately only had a single crutch postoperatively, making his rehabilitation and recovery very difficult. 

Young Haitian in orthopeadics clinic: Dr. Aldo Vitale, a volunteer visiting Adventist Hopital d'Haiti in Port-au-Prince, sharing a moment with a young Haitian man in the orthopaedics clinic. This young man, unfortunately like so many other Haitians with injuries requiring crutches, only had a single crutch on which to protect the weight-bearing of his injured lower extremity.

For more pictures and stories from Haiti click here. To help Crutches 4 Kids reach out to patients like these, please consider hosting a crutch drive in your community, making a donation, hosting a fundraiser, or volunteering your services to help us achieve our mission. For more information on how to get involved click here.

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