A man pulled alive from the rubble of a building in Haiti’s capital Monday may have been trapped since the January 12 quake that leveled much of the city, doctors reported.
The 28-year-old man, identified as Evan Muncie, was found in the wreckage of a market where he sold rice, his family told staff at a University of Miami field hospital. He suffered from extreme dehydration and malnutrition, but did not appear to have significant crushing injuries, the doctors said.
“He was emaciated. He hadn’t had anything in quite some time. He had open wounds that were festering on both of his feet,” said Dr. Mike Connelly, of the university’s Project Medishare.
The people who brought him to the hospital said they found the man while digging out the marketplace, Connelly said.
The man told doctors that someone was bringing him water while he was trapped, but doctors told CNN that he sounded confused and at times appeared to believe he was still under the rubble. Connelly said the man must have had some water during the past month to have survived, but Connelly wasn’t sure how he would have had access to it.
“Initially, I’m sure he had his senses with him, so maybe he was able to find some kind of resources,” Connelly told CNN.
Stick thin and severely dehydrated, with festering open wounds on both feet, at first Mr Monsigrace spoke ramblingly, convinced that he was still trapped and begging to die, medical staff reported. But yesterday the 28-year-old rice seller began to talk sensibly, and doctors now say that it is feasible that he survived on water and perhaps some fruit, although his story cannot be independently checked.
Mr Monsigrace has told them that he had just finished selling rice for the day at the city centre market when the quake hit. He didn’t suffer any major injuries but was trapped on his side, in an area where food and drink vendors were selling their goods.
“Based on that [his story], we believe him,” said Dr Dushyantha Jayaweera, who works at the University of Miami Medishare field hospital where Mr Monsigrace was transferred because he was in critical condition.
Dr Jayaweera said that Mr Monsigrace originally claimed that he had not had any water or food at all. Doctors found however that he had normal kidney function with only some heart palpitations, suggesting that he at least had drunk something, but not enough to avoid getting dehydrated.
It wasn’t clear whether other people had provided food and water to the man before he got to the clinic, said Mr Andrew. It also wasn’t known why teams of international search and rescue workers were not alerted to the discovery of the survivor.
She said that Mr Monsigrace was last night in a stable condition and nibbling chocolate as he was treated for dehydration and malnutrition.
“Someone could not survive 28 days without water,” Ms Ynclan said. “You can go nine weeks without food.”
“It’s not just amazing that he survived — the amazing fact is that they found him,” said Dr Jayaweera. “You never say never in medicine. I think it tells us about people not giving up on their loved ones — they kept looking and kept hoping.”
The discovery came nearly a month after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince on January 12. Haiti’s government declared search-and-rescue efforts over on January 23, but survivors still were being unearthed as late as January 27.
For more, including video, go to http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/02/08/haiti.rescue/index.html