Nightly News

Nightly News   |  February 01, 2010

Aboard the Comfort, a respite from despair

Caregivers aboard the USNS Comfort are working around the clock to treat the wounded and save lives in Haiti. NBC's Robert Bazell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

host: biscuit?

>>> we're back, returning again as promised to the situation in haiti , specifically on board the u.s. navy ship "comfort" off the coast of haiti , where american caregivers are working around the clock to treat the wounded and save lives. robert bazell is on board the "comfort" watching the unbelievable scene unfold firsthand.

>> reporter: two miles offshore, 85 doctors and 150 nurses have treated close to 700 severely wounded survivors in two weeks.

>> if we stop taking any patients, we probably have three more weeks of operating before we would finish up and clean out all the wounds.

>> reporter: there's no intention of stopping. new patients arrive daily. this woman has a lower leg bone fractured in five places. at any hospital in haiti , the leg would be amputated. here they have the specialists and supplies to save it. there are psychology its for those afraid to bond with her new board, until the doctor slowly got her to accept him. he's treated dozens of severely traumatized children.

>> they need to gather whatever hope or courage they have to continue on.

>> reporter: most of the medical staff is navy, there are also volunteers for many organizations, among them, judy korinski from massachusetts, who left her own three-month-old at hold to breast-feed those from the orphanage.

>> there's three of us here on the ship.

>> everyone wants her.

>> the care has to end. the beds are limited, the stable ones must be moved out. mona lost a leg in the quake, and said she's not sure where she's going. the questions of who comes here for care, as to when and where they're released involve a complex series of negotiations, between the military, the haitian government and various volunteer organizations. there is one constant, almost none of the patients is happy to leave after receiving is such excellent care aboard the "comfort." robert bazell , nbc news off port-au-prince.

>>> when we come back, how