Typhoon gives doctor painful education
» Live music found to calm surgery patients
Dr. Jorge Camara became a patient for the first time in his life after falling down a flight of stairs in the dark during the weekend typhoon in Manila.
How to Help
Send donations to Manila typhoon victims:
Aloha Medical Mission Typhoon Fund, 810 N. Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96817. For more information, call 847-3400 or visit www.alohamedicalmission.org.
The Honolulu ophthalmologist flew home yesterday "pretty banged up overall" and with 30 stitches in his head from lacerations down to the bone. His body from the neck down "looks like one huge bruise," he said, joking that he's "Bruised Lee."
When Typhoon Fengshen hit on Sunday (Saturday in Hawaii), he said, "The wind was howling and it was raining massively all around." He was due to leave but flights were canceled.
He was staying at his sister's house in Makati when the electricity went out, he said. "We had not yet heard about the severity of the damage."
Unfamiliar with the home and in the dark, he said he lost his footing and fell down 13 steps, hitting his head "not only once but several times. Luckily, I didn't lose consciousness, but I knew I was severely injured by the amount of blood over me, gushing from a head wound."
His family took him to the emergency room at Makati Medical Center, where he used to go on rounds as a child with his father, also a doctor.
"I feel so blessed that I didn't have more severe injuries," he said.
"But I could play the piano for you right now," added Camara, a classical pianist, who scheduled a news conference today at the former St. Francis Medical Center to discuss the medical benefits of live classical music before surgery.
He said he was in the Makati hospital overnight Sunday and discharged Monday afternoon after 24 hours of observation.
"All around me were victims of the typhoon, most of them car-accident victims."
The typhoon's toll was estimated at more than 200 killed and hundreds more missing on shore. However, more than 800 passengers and crew of a ferry that capsized during the storm are still missing off the island off Sibuyan.
Camara said he received great medical care in his first experience as a patient and that now he knows how his patients feel when he injects them around the eye for surgery and reassures them.
"My head hurt a million times over and the surgeon kept saying, 'It's OK, it's all right.' I consider myself a gentle surgeon and I'm going to be even more gentle.
"But in relation to everybody else, I deeply feel for families who lost loved ones, people who lost homes, people who need medical supplies, clothes and medicine."
An Aloha Medical Mission board member and past president, Camara said he's encouraging everyone to help the group with donations to purchase medical and other emergency supplies for the devastated country.
Dr. Ramon Sy, also a former Aloha Medical Mission president, said Hawaiian Airlines has offered to deliver supplies. He said the Philippine Medical Association of Hawaii is working with the organization, donating volunteers, supplies and money. An Aloha Medical Mission group returned last week from Ilocos Norte and Laguna, Philippines, missing Typhoon Fengshen's 93 mph winds, heavy rains and landslides, he said. More than 100,000 people were evacuated.
A medical mission won't be sent there until the damage is fully assessed, Sy said.