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A Message from Christchurch

1 March 2011

Last week the Medtronic Foundation donated $USD 50,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross to support relief efforts for Christchurch Earthquake victims.

In response to the Medtronic Foundation donation, Rose, one of Medtronic’s clinical specialists based in Christchurch sent the following letter telling of her experiences in Christchurch in the days following the earthquake.

“I want to thank Medtronic personally for this generous donation to help support the NZ Red Cross in earthquake devastated Christchurch.
It is a strange time, almost surreal. It’s hard to believe this much damage could happen here in Christchurch and in such a short period of time. The reality of the situation now one week post shock is beginning to hit home as they begin to release the list of fatalities. As Canterbury is a small, close-knit community many of us know someone who’s life has been cut short and families that will never have their loved one come home.

We are all doing as much as we can to help others,whilst making sure our own families are safe. My girls are 11 and 13 and this will be remembered by them always as a major landmark in their lives.  Megan, the 11 year old, during the first quake truly thought the world was coming to an end as I suppose she had no experience like it to draw on and understand what was happening. They are working through the fact that we are safe and sound but  that some are not and they are learning how to support friends and listen to them as we have had friends come and stay at our home.

What an experience like this does remind you of is what matters most, which is people, and the length that others can go to toward trying to find those who may still be trapped in the crumbled buildings and the support we can offer by opening our homes to those whose home has gone. It is incredible to watch the overseas rescue teams with their specialist knowledge and equipment arrive and go straight to work, leaving the hospital yesterday there were the Australian police assisting with the security.

It is strange how again there are some areas devastated and others that have ridden the earthquake with minimal damage. This quake had a different feel to it and went for a long time with a real rolling feel. The noise that comes with it is hard to describe but it sounds like a freight train at full steam ahead and very close to you.

The Cardiology Department at Christchurch Hospital is still busy with 24 angioplasties performed on the first day after the shock and a number of pacemakers being implanted.  At the time the quake struck they were implanting a pacemaker and the force of the quake made the device fall from the scrub table to the floor. The procedure was stopped and this will be rescheduled again shortly. We have also seen a number of ICD patients having events, in some cases they were primary implants. Some of the first shocks were with in a short time of the quake.

I was working with a Christchurch surgeon in Timaru Hospital at the time of the quake and the look he gave was one of heartbreak as we knew it would be a damaging one. He directed us to finish clinic quickly and fill up on petrol as we drove home.  He went home to find the walls of his lovely solid two storey brick character home “blown” out with the force of the quake. It is now red stickered. They did however manage to dig out their beloved dog the next day, still alive.

We will only truly begin to realise the extent of damage to our city not only in the structural sense but in the damage and challenges it will put on people’s lives in the next few months as businesses are unable to continue and housing repairs begin. So thank you again for this support, it is truly a gesture that makes me feel proud to work for Medtronic.

Kindest regards





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