ESTERNA’S STORY: A HAPPY ENDING
During the last clinic day at Ile a Vaches in July 2013, FHHH Member Dr. Myriam Germain, a pediatrician, took a deep breath when she realized there were only a couple of children left for consultation after a very long day. A thin shy little girl sat in front of her. She was surprised when her mother said that she was 5 because she looked younger. Her mother complained that she was always tired, could not walk very far so her parents tended to carry her. She could not play with other kids because she would tire so easily. She did not gain weight and her mother could feel her heart beating fast simply by touching her chest. When Dr. Germain examined her, she realized that Esterna had a heart defect and had a hole in her heart causing all of her symptoms. Dr. Yolaine St.Louis, FHHH member and also a pediatrician also examined the child; they both knew that unless this child had surgery, her heart function would continue to worsen and she would not survive. They both promise the mother that they would find a way to help her.
(Esterna: Pre-Surgery) – Upon their return to the states, Dr. Germain found out about a group of cardiac surgeons from Florida that traveled to Haiti 2-3 times a year and performed heart surgery in Port-au-Prince. The challenges were many: first the child would need specialized tests to confirm their diagnosis. They would need to find a way to get the child’s name on the list, get the child to Port-au-Prince for the tests and for the surgery. Lastly, they needed to ensure that the child has proper follow up if they were lucky enough to have the surgery done.
(Esterna: 3 Weeks Post Surgery) – Dr. Germain arranged for Dr. Morisset, a cardiologist in Port au Prince, to do the specialized tests but first FHHH had to arrange for the family to get there. They would have to take a boat ride to get off the island then travel 4 hours to get to Port au Prince. The family was astounded when they received the first call telling them that we were in the process of arranging for the child to see a specialist. They did not think we would actually called; they had little hope that someone would help them. After many phone calls and instructions, Dr. Morisset saw the child and confirmed our diagnosis: Esterna had a huge hole in her heard called an ASD and the only treatment is open-heart surgery. FHHH was able to get her name on the list for the next visit by the cardiac surgeons, which was to take place a month later. They arranged for the family to make the return trip to Port au Prince and 2 months after that first faithful visit in Ile a Vaches, Esterna had successful open heart at Clinic Flambert in Port-au-Prince.
(Esterna: 2 and A Half Months Post Surgery) – We are glad to say that through perseverance, many phone calls, hard work, and the collaboration of many, Esterna did have life saving open-heart surgery. We kept in touch with the family throughout the process and she was seen in our clinic for follow up upon her return to Ile a Vaches. We are glad to say that she is thriving now. Her parents are so grateful that she now can play with the kids in the area, can walk without getting tired and now will be able to attend school. It was such pleasure to see her hugging her new doll during our toy distribution at Ile a Vaches in December 2013. Less than 3 months after her surgery, she has gained weight, and is a playful, happy child full of life.