Marilin’s Rocky Road to Recovery

by Simone Hartel/RBU,  2010/03/11

Simone Hartel studies medicine in Marburg and she has been a member of the humedica team in Haiti since 9th February. By means of highly energetic and dedicated work she assists the doctors at the Hospital of Hope, changes dressings, examines patients and listens to them when they want to talk about their experiences. Simone has also treated and listened to the young woman Marilin, and she has written down her experiences.

“Since Marilin’s Achilles tendon was torn, her lower leg was almost completely coated by dead tissue, and hence her injuries were too severe, we decided to move her to another hospital. She agreed only reluctantly. She did not want to leave us.

We moved her to a mattress on the truck bed of our pick up and then humedica coordinator Simon and I took her to another hospital, where she was examined immediately. We had done all we could to ensure her recovery – or that we thought. Marilin was very sad and cried when I had to leave.

We used a mattress put into the truck bed for transporting Marilin to hospital. Photo: humedica/Simon Gelzenleuchter

As we learned later, the team of the plastic surgeon had left the day after we had taken Marilin to the hospital and there were difficulties with finding a team to replace them. When Marilin heard this news, she ran away from the hospital – probably with the assistance of her sister and a friend.

She could not walk, she was hardly able to sit and still seriously ill, but nevertheless she somehow managed to get into one of the overcrowded taxis and travelled through half the town back to our Hospital of Hope. Later, the chief physician of the other hospital told me that they had searched for Marilin everywhere.

So, when I entered the treatment tent in the morning, she was lying on her habitual place. None of us could imagine how she had managed to return. When we talked to a physician of the other hospital, he told us that – although he had only seen two of our patients with us – he was deeply impressed of how our patients came to like us and how they became attached to us – and we to them.

We were concerned about Marilin’s foot for a long time, and the potential loss of her limb frightened her, too. When one day tension eventually became too much for her, she broke down in tears in my presence. And this was when I understood why she had never cried before: her family does not allow her to cry, since tears are considered to be a sign of personal weakness.

Marilin returned to the Hospital of Hope by a tap-tap, a Haitian taxi. Photo: humedica

Fortunately, at this moment no family member of hers was present. If there had been, she might once more have repressed her grief, fear and desperation which had accumulated over the past few weeks and have played the role of the brave young woman. But on this occasion she could finally give vent to all the accumulated emotions.

A few days later, I found another team which will finally operate Marilin. I made her promise that she would not leave the other hospital on her own again. And in turn I promised her that we would take her back to the Hospital of Hope for the after-treatment.

Now we are waiting for the results of the first operation and hope that the numbness will finally leave her foot and that she will be able to use it once more. I am tense and excited, since she has become very dear to me – the young woman Marilin with her scars and her beaming smile, her great courage and her deep mental trauma.”

We have only been able to help people like Marilin because of the donations we have received so far. Please continue supporting our work in Haiti with a targeted donation.

humedica e.V.
Donation reference “Earthquake Haiti”
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00
Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online. Thank you very much.

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