Reno doctor lends a hand in Haiti
RENO – Reno podiatrist Tim Mooney has a new appreciation for life after his trip to Haiti, where he saw firsthand the great need for medical care and the resiliency of the Haitian people in the face of tragedy.
Mooney spent a week treating earthquake victims in the city of Leogane.
Despite the grief and destruction, there were many people who were able to smile and look for the good things in life.
“I think what impacted me more than anything was how they maintained their faith in God during such a trial,” Mooney, 40, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It changed the way I look at life and how I approach each day. Now, when I start to whine about something I have to do, I stop and look at it differently.”
Mooney had been to Leogane years ago while serving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also lived elsewhere in the country from 1988 to 1990.
After the Jan. 12 magnitude 7.0 earthquake, he contacted several doctor friends in Utah and Arizona who also had served missions in Haiti. Given their medical backgrounds and knowledge of the language there, they tried to offer their services to Doctors Without Borders.
“Sometimes we couldn’t get through to them, and then we were told we would have to go through a lengthy application process.” So they made private arrangements to travel to Haiti.
Mooney teamed with a friend from his former missionary days, Stanley Phillips, a podiatrist who lives in Highland, Utah.
“We stayed at night in the Mormon LDS Church in Leogane, but we went to an area we set up with the Germans and the Cubans, and worked as a team treating the injured,” Mooney said.
“I saw a lot of fractures and open, infected wounds,” he said. “‘I’m a podiatrist but I also am a foot and ankle surgeon. I did about eight or nine below-the-knee amputations and a couple of arm and foot amputations.”
Phillips said it was an emotional experience.
“When you have an 18-year-old daughter of your own and you are amputating the leg of another young lady who is 18, it really strikes a chord,” he told the newspaper.
“Here is this young woman with her whole life ahead of her and suddenly she doesn’t have a leg anymore. But the next day, she was in great spirits and ready to get on with life.”
Mooney said he was humbled by the experience.
“I have an immense amount of gratitude now for what I do have, and a desire to have a greater respect from now on for relationships and life,” he said.
Phillips said he was amazed at the resilience of the human spirit shown by the Haitians.
“These people already had been living at a low level and they had just suffered a severe blow, but they keep on going,” he said.
“They care for each other, and if a child loses both parents, an uncle or aunt steps in to care for them,” Phillips said. “So as much bad as there is in the world, there also is a lot of good in it, too.”