Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I don't know anyone like my husband John. He perseveres to get expensive help in the United States for poor Haitians dying from heart defects and disease in Haiti. Actually, perseveres is putting it lightly. It's more like he's an inexorable force that can't be stopped (to be redundant about things). Miterlande is a poor Haitian girl who contracted strep throat, which went untreated and developed into rheumatic fever, seriously damaging her heart valves. She is only 16. She has no money, no contacts and lives in a country with little to no medical care for its poorer members. Poor people in the developing world who need heart surgery aren't showing up on very many people's radar. Think about the impossibility of Miterlande, who in material terms, has nothing coming to the United States for heart surgery.
But that's exactly what's happening for Miterlande. She and her sister visited John more than two years ago. He examined Miterande and sent her to get an echocardiogram in Port-au-Prince. He returned home with a videocassette of the echocardiogram. Over the past almost two years, due to family circumstances, John has probably spent less time in Haiti than he has since he started going in 1981--only three weeks total. I have to tell you, that when a person returns to the United States from Haiti, it is all too easy to forget about the Haitians who are hoping for your help. I know this because I have done it. And even when you don't forget, the obstacles to getting state-of-the-art surgical medical care for this poor person, who is hoping against hope, that you won't forget about her, that you will try, are beyond daunting. John doesn't forget and he isn't daunted. He sends out e-mails, calls people, cajoles health care providers. Time and time again, he convinces doctors and even more challengingly, medical centers to accept patients.
This time it was Miterlande who was the beneficiary of this effort and conscience. Dr. Bryan Foy and Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois have accepted Miterande. She is Haitian Hearts patient number 134. Not that we're counting or anything. Each one of these patients are precious and unique. They have God-given gifts that the world is deprived of when they die too soon. We rejoice with Miterlande and her family that she will get the opportunity--that should be, that is a right--to get the health care she badly needs.