Monday, February 26, 2007

A Few Updates on Children

We wanted to give you all an update on some of the children who are in our program:

We are excited to report today that we have found medical care for little Achemine, the 5 month old little girl with hydrocephaly. We have been so concerned for her and are relieved to know that we will be able to get her this life-saving surgery soon. You may remember that her parents brought her to us on our last trip to Haiti. Achemine was born with a normal size head, but around the time that she turned 3 months old, her head began to swell. She was bright and alert when I spent some time with her, but we are concerned about her vision as she wasn't focusing or tracking objects well. This little girl will be going to the Roanoke area in Virginia to have a shunt put in place. We know it will be difficult for her parents to let her go, but from talking with them, I know they are so anxious for their young baby to get the help she needs. Her father has done most of the paperwork himself and came to us with almost everything ready to go. We will be applying for her visa in the next week so please keep this little one and her family in your prayers.

We also received word that Nelson, a 14 yr old boy who has a serious heart condition has been accepted at the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvannia. This is the same facility that took care of Anderson shortly after Christmas last year. Nelson's father came to see us while we were in PAP and he told us that Nelson was very weak. We assured him that we were doing all we could to find a doctor to care for his son and we are so excited to be able to tell him now that Nelson will be getting his surgery! Nelson needs to have several valves replaced and has been waiting since last summer. His doctor in Haiti believes it is a miracle that he has lived this long as he was expected to die many months ago. Hopefully, we will be able to raise the funds for his plane ticket quickly so that he can fly to Pennsylvania very soon.
Along those same lines, we are happy to say that Anderson, who had that very large hole in his heart, is ready to return to his family in Haiti. He did very well with his VSD surgery and we want to thank his host family in Pennsylvania, along with the doctors and staff at Hershey Medical Center. We hope to have him fly back to Haiti sometime in the next few weeks.

Berny will also be returning to Haiti soon. He has been cleared to return to his family and I know they are anxious to get him back! His last visit here lasted almost 6 months, so we are excited that the surgery went so well this time. He is a handsome little man and we will look forward to watching him grow. It will be easy to keep track of Berny because his father, Bernard is our medical visa coordinator in Haiti. Bernard is invaluable to us and to the families we are helping. He is such a blessing to our mission.

We still have a number of children waiting for care and are asking if anyone knows of any medical professionals that might be willing to help us:

The most urgent situation is Yole Christy. She is a two year old little girl with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and an enlarged heart. Her father brought her to us and we have a very detailed echocardiogram tape and report to share with the doctors here. We have tried several leads to find cardiologists and have a few more to go. However, we found out today that Yole Christy is very sick and her doctor in Haiti is calling us every day to find out if we have found her care. Please be in prayer for this little girl and her father. It is a heart breaking situation anytime a little one is so sick, but for this father, it is especially tragic. He lost Yole Christy's mother soon after her birth due to complications from the c-section. While a c-section is often routine in this country, no medical procedure is routine in Haiti and so many die from treatable complications. This little girl is truly his life and this young father is doing an amazing job raising her all by himself. You could see just how much he loves her and could feel his pain as he cried when hearing about the surgery she would need to save her life.

In addition to Yole Christy, we have several new cardiology patients as well and we will share more information as we receive it. Heart surgery is very expensive and it has been difficult to find doctors and facilities in a position to donate the care. If anyone knows of any pediatric cardiology programs that might be interested in working with our program, please email me as soon as possible.
We also met three young boys last month that all have similar problems. Each of these little guys have some type of defect in their urinary system. They are all different, but all are going to require the care of a pediatric urologist. Vanessa and I talked with all the families and took pictures of these guys to share with the doctors. None of the boys were very happy with the whole situation until I pulled out tennis balls and granola bars! That made the whole thing much more enjoyable for them.

The first little guy is named Georgy. Georgy is a 9 year old orphan who lives with his elderly grandfather. He was pretty quiet when we met him, but warmed up as we walked out of the guesthouse and up the street together. He has a beautiful smile and a sweet voice when he gets chatty! I don't believe Georgy is able to go to school as the cost is too high for his grandfather to pay. He doesn't live in Port au Prince, but had to travel quite a ways to see us that day.

Sebastian is 8 years old and lives with his mother. His mom doesn't work and his father has left the family. Sebastian does go to school and was a busy guy. When we asked, Sebastian todl us that likes to run and play with his friends. He also likes to play ball, so I was very happy that Vanessa had stuffed all those tennis balls into her suitcases. Sebastian was very serious when we tried to take his picture and we could tell he was quite relieved when it was time for him to leave the strange blans behind.

Westily is the youngest of the three and is only 5 years old. He lives with his mother in a very small shack along with his 7 older siblings. There is no father to support this large family and they truly have few resources on which to survive. His condition seems to be the most severe of the group and I will be relieved once we find someone to help this little man. Westily is a shy boy and doesn't make much eye contact when he first meets you. After talking to him for a few minutes though, he began to relax and he loved the new ball I handed him. As he was getting ready to leave, I noticed that his shoes were way too small. I quickly went back to my room as Vanessa finished up the interview with his mother and found a pair of tennis shoes that my son Pierre had sent down so that another little Haitian might be able to use them. I was treated to such a beautiful smile when I handed those shoes to Wesily. He was so excited! I wish it was so easy to fix the other problems he has to deal with each day.

Please let us know if you have any resources you might be able to share to help Angel Missions bring these young fellows here to the US for medical care. While the surgery these three need may not be of the emergency nature, their lives with the malformations they have will be all the more difficult in Haiti. They cannot receive simple medications or procedures if problems arise as they grow and long term this may shorten their lives. Just as serious is the ill treatment they may receive if others find out about their conditions. Haitian culture, like so many others around the world, can be unkind to those who look different. Birth defects are often seen as a curse on the child and his family and the child can be shunned or harmed in some situations. Sadly, this isn't all that different than our own country several generations ago. Please keep these boys and their families in your prayers. We will keep trying until we find help for them and would love to hear from you if you can help too.

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