Monday, May 13, 2013

A Faraway House Call

"I'm so sick. I can't lie down to sleep. I'm dying." Those were the words Marie Claude Toussaint spoke to John from her home in Port-au-Prince. John listened from 1,800 miles away. He talked with Marie; he emailed her cardiologist; he agonized over her meds. But in the end, her congestive heart failure proved too difficult to manage via phone.

So on March 29, John traveled to Haiti to see Marie. As my dad said, "It's the longest house call I've ever heard of. " When John arrived, he found Marie as sick as she had described, swollen with fluid, unable to sleep. He put her up in the guesthouse in Haiti where he was staying. He managed her diuretics without labs. She got a little bit more comfortable and was able to eat. But it was just a temporary reprieve. As John said, "She needs the knife." 

Specifically, she needed new heart valves. Marie had had heart valve repair surgery in the United States in 2001. But these repairs last only so long. Prior to his trip, John said the hard part wasn't going to Haiti to try to help Marie. The hard part would be leaving Haiti, leaving Marie. So John put out the word that he had a patient who needed surgery now in the dim hopes that he would be able to leave Haiti with Marie.

And then he waited.

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