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Doctors airlift 3 critically ill Haitian children

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Doctors skirted a bureaucratic logjam to save the life of three critically ill child victims of Haiti's earthquake yesterday, flying them to U.S. hospitals on a private jet to avoid a military suspension of medical evacuation flights.

A 5-year-old tetanus victim, a 14-month-old boy with pneumonia and a baby with third-degree burns were sent to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia by the Boston aid group Partners in Health.

"These are three children who would have died if they had stayed here," said Dr. Louise Ivers, clinical director of Partners in Health in Haiti.

The airlift had been in doubt after the U.S. military stopped medical evacuation flights on Wednesday night because of apparent concerns over the long-term costs to U.S. public hospitals of absorbing seriously injured patients.

Late Sunday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the medical airlift was on track to resume by early Monday. The White House received assurances that additional medical capacity exists in the United States and among its international partners for the patients. Exactly what led to the suspension of medical evacuation flights was unclear.

Meanwhile, the UN's World Food Program began giving food directly to women Sunday, largely avoiding the violent jostling that has disrupted aid. Young men often have forced their way to the front of aid delivery lines or steal it from others, aid groups said.

The UN and partners handed out 55-pound bags of rice at 14 sites and plan to continue the system daily for the next two weeks. Also getting aid were elderly and disabled people and some men who were allowed into line, if women in their household were unable to come.

UN officials say they are still far short of reaching all 2 million quake victims estimated to need food aid.

Both federal and state officials appeared to distance themselves from the decision to suspend medical evacuation. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told ABC News' "Good Morning America" Sunday he was puzzled by the reported suspension. He said 700 people had come from Haiti to Florida over the past 24 hours and said the state was still willing to help emergency cases.

White House officials said they were working to increase hospital capacity in Haiti and aboard the USNS Comfort hospital ship as well as in the United States.

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