The woman arrived unconscious and without a pulse in the Emergency Room of the Hospital Bernard Mevs, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The physicians and other volunteers from Miami-based Project Medishare immediately began working to save the woman's life.
For 17 years I was a medical writer for two major American newspapers; first The Washington Post, and then Newsday. And in all that time, with the countless hours I spent in hospitals, I was never on hand in the Emergency Room during a Code, the all out struggle to bring a patient back from the brink of death, often successful, and some times not.
One morning while I was drinking coffee in the breakroom of Bernard Mevs Hospital, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a Project Medishare volunteer from Minnesota came from the ER to get me. "Grab your cameras and come on," he said, "if you want to see a Code underway." Needless to say I gathered up my gear and ran for the always busy, grossly overcrowded ER at one of Haiti's precious few trauma centers.
By the time I arrived in the Emergency Room the Code was already underway. The patients, a Haitian woman, had collapsed suddenly at home, and was brought to the hospital by ambulance. By the time she was brought in she had stopped breathing and was in cardiac arrest. What then transpired was a 25 minute medical battle with death, and volunteer and staff medical personnel struggled to get her breathing and restore a cardiac rhythm.
The images you see here document that struggle. And while these primal battles usually have happy endings in TV medical dramas, in real life they often do not.
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B. D. Colen
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About The Photographer
B. D. Colen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter, editor, and columnist who spent 26 years at The Washington Post and Newsday, covering medicine, health care, and health policy for 17 of those years. A photographer for more than 50 years, Colen began his professional photography career in 1963, covering the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom for a weekly newspaper in Connecticut.
For the past 13 years Colen has taught documentary photography and journalism writing courses at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and has taught photography at the Maine Media Workshops and the Harvard University Extension School.
Colen's work has appeared in publications from Newsday, to the New England Journal of Medicine, from the Boston Globe, to the Christian Science Monitor, and he has photographed for numerous corporate and institutional clients. He has a blog on Huffington Post.
B. D. Colen is available for international and national documentary work for NGOs, editorial clients, and private individuals.