Monday, January 18, 2010

A Special Place for CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta



Recently, I have become quite a fan of CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  Dr. Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon based in Atlanta, frequently appears on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and on ABC's Good Morning America, to discuss various medical issues. He also anchors his own show on CNN on Saturday and Sunday mornings called Sanjay Gupta M.D.  Dr. Gupta travels on location as a reporter for CNN to report about breaking medical related news, including traveling to Mexico City during the H1N1 outbreak and Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the devastating South Asian tsunami.  So, on January 12, 2010, the same day as a devastating 7.0 earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, the capitol of Haiti on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, Dr. Gupta was on his way to witness and report on behalf of CNN from the aftermath of this latest world crisis.  I have been following Dr. Gupta on Twitter for some time, and these are his tweets discussing his travel and arrival in Haiti:

@sanjayguptaCNN: Spent a lot of time in #haiti. now heading back to report on this awful tragedy. this poor country has been hit so hard. #cnn tomorrow 7:46 PM Jan 12th from web

@sanjayguptaCNN: Many have asked: of course, if needed, I will help people with my neurosurgical skills. yes, I am a reporter, but a doctor first. 7:07 PM Jan 13th from web


Dr. Gupta's statement "I am a reporter, but a doctor first." would be tested on January 15th, when Dr. Gupta was reporting from a field hospital set up by the United Nations.  Dr. Gupta and his CNN crew started out by reporting on the work being done by a UN medical staff from Belgium conducting surgery in makeshift tents attempting to save victims of the earthquake. 

@sanjayguptaCNN: http://twitpic.com/y8ftg - view inside a field surgical suite in haiti. operations in a tent with generator power. finally! 2:07 PM Jan 15th from TwitPic

However, at some point during that day, the UN Belgiun medical staff was ordered to leave the field hospital and take most of their supplies with them.  Apparently violence had broken out nearby, and the UN felt it was unsafe for the medical staff to stay at the field hospital throughout the night.  Patients, who were just recovering from surgery and still new wounded coming in, were going to be abandoned to fend for themselves.  In a report from the scene, Dr. Gupta seemed very distressed that the evacuation of the UN medical staff was happening and his concern for the patients at this field hospital was palpable.  Unable to leave the patients at the field hospital, some suffering head trauma and recent
 amputations, alone without medical assistance, Dr. Gupta, his CNN staff and one Haitian nurse remained at the field hospital throughout the night.  With no blood or sufficient medical supplies, Dr. Gupta remained at the hospital caring for the injured as best he could, taking vital signs and administrating pain killers.  At one point the generators gave out, leaving the field hospital tents in pitch black, and yet he stayed.  Here are his tweets from that night:

@sanjayguptaCNN: At field hosp. the UN evacuated the docs, but my crew stayed with me. 25 patients - injured badly, but we are making sure they get good care. 10:55 PM Jan 15th from UberTwitter

@sanjayguptaCNN: All my thanks, blessings and well wishes to @daniellecnn, @timcrock, and jonathan schaer for sticking with me tonight here in haiti hosp. 10:58 PM Jan 15th from UberTwitter

@sanjayguptaCNN: 345a. Pulling all nighter at haiti field hosp. lots of work, but all patients stable. turned my crew into a crack med team tonight. #proud 12:49 AM Jan 16th from UberTwitter

@sanjayguptaCNN: 5a update. We lost all generator power. sun will come up in about 30 minutes. now confident we will get all these patients through the night. 2:04 AM Jan 16th from UberTwitter
@sanjayguptaCNN: So sorry to not anchor my show today. couldn't break away from the field hospital. if #cnn doesn't fire me, promise to do the show tomorrow. 9:18 AM Jan 16th from UberTwitter


Today, Dr. Gupta has continued to prioritize his role as a doctor over that of a paid reporter.  A 12 year-old girl named Kimberly, who has suffered a very significant skull fracture, needed a neurosurgeon to extract a piece of concrete from her brain.  The medical staff of the USS Carl Vinson, a Navel carrier that had been deployed off the coast of Haiti to provide assistance in the relief efforts, was unable to help her because they lacked expertise to perform the delicate surgery.  After seeing the CNN reports of Dr. Gupta helping out at the field hospital, the USS Vinson personnel contacted Dr. Gupta who agreed to come aboard and perform the surgery on this little girl.

@sanjayguptaCNN: honored to operate on a beautiful 12 yo girl, kimberly. suffered terrible brain inj/was taken to uss carl vinson. she will do great! #hope 3 minutes ago from web

My words cannot adequately express how impressed I am of Dr. Gupta's courage and dedication.  His ethical duties as a doctor and his humanity have taken precedent over any responsibility Dr. Gupta may have to his current employer CNN.  CNN you should be proud to have such a hero working on your payroll and I know that God will have save special place for you, Dr. Gutpa, when this is all over.

Copyright 2010 Romy Schneider.  All rights reserved.

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