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Visiting Haiti and changing lives



Published: Sat, March 6, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

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Neighbors | SubmittedJustin Mistovich (left) and his wife, Keili, provided voluntary medical aid for Haitians in January. Both provided pediatric care for those who suffered injuries from the earthquake that struck Jan. 12.

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Neighbors | SubmittedPictured are the remains of home that was once occupied by a Haitian family. Justin Mistovich, along with other volunteers, helped clear debris from fallen homes while volunteering their services Jan. 24-28.

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Neighbors | SubmittedA member of John Mistovich’s medical team helps a young Haitian stand with her crutch. The young girl has a broken arm and a broken leg. All medical services provided were free of charge for the Haitians.

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Neighbors | SubmittedA view of the tent hospital in Haiti where Justin Mistovich, along with a medical team, provided care for injured Haitians. The tent was located inside an airplane hanger in Port-au-Prince.

By SHAIYLA HAKEEM

neighbors@vindy.com

Boardman native Justin Mistovich has taken the knowledge he as obtained here in the U.S. and used it in a country that has been struck by disaster — Haiti.

After graduating from BHS in 1999, Mistovich attended Duquesne University as a undergraduate and attained his medical degree in 2008 from Wright State University. He is an orthopedic surgeon that wants to improve the lives of others through his medical expertise.

“I like the fact that there is a wide range of diseases and conditions you can treat from the pediatric population all the way up to adults,” said Mistovich. “You can make black-and-white definitive improvements in people’s lives with the surgical procedures that you do.”

Mistovich is an orthopedic surgeon at the Allegheny General Hospital in Pennsylvania. A trip to Haiti was orchestrated by the Buchard family, of Pittsburgh, who donated its plane for the trip. Pittsburgh businesses, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals donated tens of millions of dollars worth of medical supplies for the cause.

“We personally brought down $4 million of medical supplies and about $30 million of medical supplies from other organizations were loaded on the plane,” Mistovich said.

The plane, according to him, transported 60 individuals to Haiti. The trip was completely voluntarily and all services were provide free of charge to the Haitians.

The media provides information and updates on the Haitian situation, but Mistovich says that actually being amongst the rubble and the Haitian natives changed his perspective of the disaster.

“When you see it in real life and you see the subplots and the people and the stories that are unfolding, you see a group of people going out in the morning with sledge hammers breaking down the rubble of what was their home so they can start again. It really touches you differently,” Mistovich said.

Mistovich was a part of a medical team consisting of an anesthesiologist, medical technicians and medical students. His team worked in a tent hospital that was located in the Port-au-Prince airport. They served as an orthopedic surgery team for that hospital.

“There were around 500 patients in that hospital and about 95 percent of them had orthopedic surgical issues,” Mistovich said.

He says that since many were injured from buildings collapsing on them, there were many fractures, infections and limbs that needed to be amputated. According to Mistovich, the hospital conducted 20 to 40 surgeries a day. The environment was very primitive, he says, utilizing folding tables for operating beds while headlights and flash lights served as operating room lights.

“It’s certainly a different perspective than working in a hospital in big ER,” Mistovich said, “To be able to practice in an environment with limited resources and people with true need and unwavering gratitude, it’s a good medical experience as well as challenging.”

Mistovich says that he would like to be able to see how the patients that he took care of are progressing. If given the opportunity, he’s willing to to return to Haiti. Until then, he says he will continue to aid the Haitians from here in the States.

“You don’t need to fly down to Haiti or make a huge donation to help — every little bit matters,” Mistovich said. “I encourage everyone to make a donation and to help their country see its way out of a terrible disaster.”


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