Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Shortest Day of the Year Can Be Long When You're Suffering:

Jackson has rough days and rougher nights: he didn’t sleep at all last night, which only makes him feel worse. He ate a little breakfast this morning and some bread for supper. He is weak and hasn’t left the room today. His mom came to visit and left depressed.

We don’t want Jackson to lose the will to live. This morning, John gave him a pep talk: you must remain strong; people at home are working to find you a hospital. Jackson asks questions we can’t answer: how long will it take? How long will you stay with me? In his mind he is calculating, “How long can I hold on?” The physical and psychological strain of his ordeal is immense. John’s letter about Jackson’s plight was published today in the Peoria Journal Star (see edited version of original letter below). Jackson bites the inside of his mouth to keep from crying and asks, “What did it say?” We are in some weird race against the anatomy of a sick boy and the anatomy of a greedy country.

Almost all of you reading these words, and definitely the girl writing them, will never have to face what Jackson is facing. First, we will never get rheumatic fever. At the hint of strep throat, we will be on cheap antibiotics, stat. Secondly, if we do develop some malfunction of our heart valve, or any serious health problem at all for that matter, we can get care. There will be no languishing on a plastic poolside chair in someone’s hotel room, hoping a hospital in the benevolence of the Christmas season, decides, yes, we will operate on you.

I ask myself, “Why is my life worth anymore than his?” It’s tempting to reply, “That’s just the way the world is.” But only the people who can get care respond like this. When you can’t get care, how can you think anything but, “Why won’t anyone help me?”

The problems we are facing in finding Jackson a hospital, the problems all the people in the developing countries face are caused by sin writ large. We should care and do more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Peoria Journal Star

Haitian needing new heart valve not getting help here

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
About 100 years ago Finley Peter Dunne stated, "The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." In this case Haitian children who desperately need heart surgery need to be comforted, and Peoria's OSF, our $1 billion health-care industry, needs to be afflicted.

Haitian Hearts is in Haiti now, and we are caring for a 21-year-old man named Jean-Baptiste. He was operated on at OSF six years ago when he underwent a successful valve repair. He presented to us 16 days ago in acute congestive heart failure. His entire body was swollen with excess fluid, and each breath was difficult for him. Jean-Baptiste couldn't eat, sleep or walk. He stared at us with scared yellow eyes.

Jean-Baptiste needs a new heart valve. I have pleaded with OSF since May to accept him and have offered $20,000 for his care. Many people in the Peoria area, including his previous host family, have attempted to contact OSF to advocate for Jean-Baptiste.

I believe the main reason Jean-Baptiste and other Haitian Hearts patients are being abandoned by OSF is because of my public criticism of OSF and its dangerous conflict of interest with Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) in Peoria. They are monopolizing emergency care when someone calls 911.

I would think that if OSF did not feel challenged by my allegations, the hospital would be more than happy to follow the Sisters' philosophy that no one is turned away . . . not even Haitians.

Dr. John A. Carroll

No comments: