Saturday, October 27, 2007

their Journey begins....

When Vanessa, and team members Ben and Theresa flew back on October 13th, they had some adorable company. Three little Haitians joined them on the trip and are here now to get their much needed medical care. The oldest is Anna Noah.

This is Anna's third trip here to the states and she will be getting her palate appliance repaired. She has had three surgeries for her cleft lip and palate and a hole remains in her palate. The doctor just didn't have enough structure to work with in order to close it completely. Anna now wears a guard to cover the hole, similiar to retainer that our teens wear after having braces. This device protects against her inhaling foods while eating and hopefully also helps prevent infection. It has also enabled Anna to develop understandable speech and she definitely doesn't have trouble making herself understood! Unfortunately, the appliance broke some time ago. Her stay here should be short this time and she will soon be on her way back to her family.

Emerson is almost two and will be going to Indiana for his surgery. Poor little Emerson was born with a severe case of cleft that extends all the way up into his eye socket. His parents have taken such good care of this little man and they are so excited to see his sweet face once the surgery in completed. He is a sweet boy who loves music and loves to dance. We are praying there are many bright days ahead for Emerson.

Nessa is a baby I met back in April. Her young mom had brought her to us and was asking for help with her little girl's club feet. This mom had diligently taken Nessa to a doctor in PAP since she was born for her to have casts put on her feet every few weeks. At seven months, it was clear the casts had not helped her. I contacted Tami Shobe with Children's Medical Missions to ask for help. This wonderful woman has a number of doctors that are able to help with this condition. We had to wait till this fall to help little Nessa, but we are all so excited that she is here and is on her way to Ohio for surgery. Nessa is adorable and so personable. She just turned one year old and is babbling and smiling at everyone. Her parents are anxious to have her back with them, but are so thankful that she is getting the opportunity to have her feet corrected. In Haiti, there are few options for children and adults with orthopedic disabilities. This surgery will make an immeasurable difference in Nessa's and her families lives!

We can't say thank you enough to all who help make these childrens lives better. Without you our mission would not be a success!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Photos from our Trip

Doctor Ben helping remove a bone fragment from this young fella's arm. This kid was so brave and didn't move a bit throughout the 45 minute procedure. Most impressive!

This adorable boy is Mish. He is 11 yrs old and has brittle bone disease. He is so charming and so engaging. Mish has broken so many bones, the doctors were amazed that he is walking at all. He does need surgery to correct some of the bones that haven't healed properly.

This little girl iss quite amazing. Her head measured 38 inches around and she was still able to move around and watch us as we talked with her mother. She was alert and has good neurological responses. She desperately needs surgery to remove the fluid. At this point, she is waiting for us to find a doctor and hospital that will give her care.

We saw a good number of children during our travels and had the opportunity to see a few medical facilities that provide good care in Port au Prince. The most extraordinary was the hospital started by friends and partners, Father Rick Frechette and Conan Conaboy. This is a wonderful example of what medical care for the Haitian community could be if excellence was the goal. Our group was so thankful for being able to tour their hospital and to hear about all they are working towards to serve the poor children in Haiti's capital. The Hospital is Hopital Saint Damien and is located near the airport in Port au Prince.

As we were touring some of the other hospitals, one thought that went through my mind a few times during our travels is that parents in this country must live in fear that their children will get sick. It isn't like here in the states where if our child gets the sniffles and a fever, we can decide to run to the closest doctor or emergency care facility. First of all, in many Haitian hospitals, you must have all funds needed to pay for the doctor, the facility, the medications and the supplies that your child needs. If you cannot pay up front, then you don't get care. If you can afford to pay, then you must take your chance that you will get good care and good medicines. There is no form of Medicaid to cover care for poor children and hospitals and doctors are allowed to turn you away if they desire. Hopefully, your child won't get sick on a weekend or at night...there is little to no emergency care service. If you child is sick enough to warrent a hospital stay and you can afford to pay, you must stay and provide all the daily care your child needs, including food while the child is there. This is especially true at night as we were told by a Haitian doctor that many nurses sleep through the night. He told us many deaths occur during this time. The fortunate families are those that are able to find help from any number of volunteer medical teams that travel to Haiti or at a hospital like Hopital Saint Damien. However, the ratio of the care available to the number of sick children is staggering. Often there just isn't any help and parents are forced to sit by helpless and heartbroken as their children die. And this happens at an alarming rate in a country just 700 miles from our shore. Sometimes I have to admit that it is just overwhelming to look around and see that much despair and not have the means to effect a significant change. I am so thankful for the many individuals who fight this battle daily and have given their time, energy and faith to these families. I am thankful for anyone who is willing to step outside of their daily lives for even a short time to try and make a difference for a small child from Haiti. Without their efforts, none of the work would ever be done.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Miracle Boy

I know there are miracles in many small things each and every day. We simply have to open our eyes and look for them! However, some times you are struck by something so huge, you just have to shout, "This is a miracle!" That is what happened one evening during my recent trip to Haiti. I walked into the courtyard after dinner one night and there he sat. The little boy who I thought for sure was going to die when he stopped breathing on our plane flight from Miami to Washington, DC. There stood a sweet, smiling Angelo! As you might expect, tears were pouring as I went to hug him. He looks amazing and is once again the sweet talking, happy boy that I met that first morning in PAP before he and I left for the US. For anyone who doesn't know the story about what happened to Angelo, you can look at the posts from April for the full blog. A quick summary is that Angelo had a large brain tumor that took up over half of his brain stem. He was struggling with excessive fluid on his brain as a result of this tumor and had lost his ability to see from either eye. He had terrible headaches and was very unsteady, eventually losing his ability to walk. The plane flights for Angelo were torturous. The pressure changes caused problems with the fluid and on our second flight he was unconscious and not breathing well. We had to make an emergency landing in Charleston, SC where some wonderful doctors, nurses and church friends did everything possible to help us during our stay there. Angelo needed a vent and the docs put him in the PICU and relieved the excess pressure. Once he was stable, the transported Angelo to Toledo, OH where Children's Medical Misions had arranged for him to undergo surgery for the tumor. Angleo's first miracle was that his tumor was not malignant.
However, he struggled terribly after the surgery. He was unable to see, he was suffering from Cerebella Mutism and could not speak, developed pneumonia and was even unable at one point to swallow his own saliva. He was having so much trouble there was even a discussion as to whether the radiation he needed would make him worse not better. However, God gave Angelo a second miracle...his mother was able to travel to OH to be with him. For this sweet, momma's-boy, that made all the difference. He left the hospital with his mother and his aunt and had radiation therapy to shrink what was left of the tumor. In August, the family returned to Haiti and Angelo continued to improve. When I saw him last week, he excitedly told us that he was going to school now and was also playing soccer. His mother was so happy and thankful that he is doing so well.

I took a video of Angelo talking with my friend Karen. He has such a sweet, quiet voice that it is difficult to hear, but it is easy to see how happy and full of life our miracle boy is these days!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Should Have Paid More Attention in French Class!

I'm in Haiti trying to use blogger in French...why oh why didn't I pay more attention in my college French classes! I am bungling along a bit but I think it will work.
The trip is going well and we are busy visiting hospitals, orphanages and clinics. There are two doctors and a nurse along with us and they are most interested in the state of medical care here in Haiti. One of the doctors; however, is Haitian and knows first hand how bad things are for the Haitians who need even simply medical care. He was trained here at the University Hospital (government run) and now is in the states learning all he can to bring back here and help. I will try and post some pictures later.
On Monday we will travel to Jeremie (Dr. Fortune's home town) and to Pestel to see another hospital. In Pestel, we will meet a friend who lives here in the mountains. Neither Vanessa nor I have been to these parts of Haiti, so it should be an interesting adventure.

Well, just lost electricity so I'll have to finish later!