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Diabetes medical director on the ground for Haitian relief

Toronto, February 26, 2010

When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, the news stunned most, SMH staff Nephrologist,Dr. Jeffrey Zaltzman grabbed his stethoscope, made some calls and joined volunteers from Montreal's Jewish General Hospital and was on the ground in a matter of days.

We arrived under darkness and the airport was closed, so we deplaned onto the tarmac, Zaltzman told In Touch. There was a lot of activity there as the American military had taken charge.

A school bus, escorted by Montreal police officers in UN vehicles, took them to an Israeli field hospital where they began relief work. He described the streets that night as eerily quiet, the air strong with exhaust fumes from the numerous portable power generators.

The conditions were poor, but the patients and their families were very grateful, said Zaltzman. Each night we would share our experiences and make changes to improve the situation daily.

Zaltzman is humble about his contribution and feels a sense of perspective after his work at the Israeli and University of Miami's field hospitals. He was also featured in ABC news piece on miraculous survival stories.

The issues we deal with back here seem trivial, when there is so little in Haiti, and day to day survival is in question, he said. I feel a greater appreciation for the life we have in Canada. Where one is born or happens to immigrate, has such a profound impact on one's fortune.