Actor Harrison Ford flew his Cessna 208 Caravan to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Saturday, Feb. 6, to command an airlift of Operation Smile medical volunteers and supplies into Hinche, Haiti.
Ford volunteered his time, piloting skills and aircraft in response to an urgent request from Operation Smile, Inc. for logistical support after the organization announced that it was sending three additional medical teams and over 2-½ tons of medical supplies across three locations in Haiti, said officials with the organization.
After battling three days of adverse weather conditions between Los Angeles and Miami during last week’s winter storm, Ford made several trips over a two-day period to a remote dirt landing strip in Haiti, delivering a team of 20 volunteers that included plastic surgeons, an orthopedic surgeon, anesthesiologists, and eight nurses, along with critical medical supplies.
Ford said he wanted to provide support after seeing the devastating impact of the earthquake, and noted, “This is not about me, it is just about doing what I can to help Operation Smile and the people of Haiti.”
After he safely delivered the volunteers and supplies, Ford was able to visit with victims of the earthquake at the hospital in Hinche, all with devastating injuries requiring urgent surgical treatment. Most had been buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings, subsequently rescued and brought by family members to this remote area because of no alternative locations for care. Upon arrival, the Operation Smile medical team triaged patients according to the severity of their injuries and additional patients were directed to physical therapy volunteers to begin the process of rehabilitation.
Operation Smile is working directly with Partners In Health in Hinche to provide surgical care for the overwhelming number of patients. A second team was sent to Fond Parisien to relieve an initial group of Operation Smile volunteers who arrived on Jan. 22, and helped establish a medical and surgical compound that expanded the capacity and level of care for hundreds of patients. A third team is working with the United States military aboard the USNS Comfort. Since Operation Smile has been in Haiti, its medical volunteer teams have conducted hundreds of medical and surgical procedures.
Operation Smile is known for its 28-year history of providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in developing countries and is not traditionally a disaster relief organization. However, the organization made a commitment to utilize its resources and quickly mobilize medical volunteers from around the world to provide assistance in Haiti, association officials said. With more than 4,000 Operation Smile medical volunteers and a presence in more than 50 countries, the organization has immediate access to trained surgical and medical professionals who have experience working in difficult environments. In addition, the Operation Smile logistics team is skilled in deploying and organizing highly functional field hospitals in developing countries across the globe.
For more information: OperationSmile.org/Haiti