Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mr. Jean-Baptiste:

Jackson has been at The Cleveland Clinic for more than a week. The contrast between this marvel of this medical, technological and architectural facility and anything in Haiti except maybe the Hotel Montana can hardly be overstated. The International Center is located in a beautiful hotel adjacent to The Clinic. The polished granite floors Jackson stared down at, the fancy rolls and fruit we were offered during the check in process, and the personal attendant assigned to us bespeak the amount of money that flows into The Clinic from paying international patients. As one of the charity patients, though, Jackson is receiving the same attention.

The conscientious, excellent attention continues once Jackson is admitted to the hospital. He is has been on three different floors, and is currently on a step down unit while he awaits surgery. He has had numerous pre-op procedures including two echocardiograms, cardiac cath, and multiple blood tests and medicine regimens. All of the testing and medical procedures are to get Jackson as strong as possible for surgery and then to give the surgeon as much knowledge as possible about Jackson’s heart so that surgery goes as smoothly as possible.

Elaine, a physician’s assistant with the cardiac surgeons, met with us last night to go over the plan for Jackson. His surgery is tentatively scheduled for Monday. Like almost all of the medical personnel who have seen Jackson, she can hardly believe the condition of his heart. “The surgeon is Croatian and he knows Jackson doesn’t really have a chance without surgery. We want to give him as good a chance as possible,” said Elaine. “We want to provide him a family here while he is at Cleveland Clinic and surround him with as much love as possible,” she continues. “I have two prayer groups praying for him.”

As John fills Elaine in on some of Jackson’s history, her eyes tear up. People at The Clinic are very touched by Jackson. He is quiet and undemanding, very sick but uncomplaining. Today when John was in the echo lab, the technicians pulled up Jackson’s echo. They didn’t think the state of his heart was really compatible with life. Yet Jackson lives on.

None of us is unaware of the huge risks that Jackson faces going into the operating room. One of the big challenges will be getting his heart re-started after his valves are repaired and it’s time to take him off the bypass machine. But he can’t continue to live like he has been.

We are impressed with the medical skill of the people at The Cleveland Clinic. But we are equally impressed by the personal care they are showing to Jackson. It was so different in Port-au-Prince where he was a sick person whom people passed by and for whom there was really nothing that could be done. On the white board above one of Jackson’s beds was written his name, as he had never been called before: Mr. Jean-Baptiste.

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