In July 2011, Jimmy arrived at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare exhibiting symptoms of a rare condition called myasthenia gravis. Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder, which involves the muscles and the nerves that control them. Our hospital staff and medical volunteers treated Jimmy. The volunteer group that week was from Eastern Health, an organization that went to Haiti with Project Medishare all the way from Newfoundland, Canada.
It was clear that Jimmy would not be able to leave our Intensive Care Unit due to needing intravenous medication every two and a half hours to control his condition. In the United States, myasthenia gravis is treated with a daily medication and patients lead very normal lives. In a third world country like Haiti, quality of life is much different with myasthenia gravis. In order to leave the hospital, Jimmy would need oral pyridostigmine, an expensive medication that is not available in Haiti. Without this medication, he would need to be an inpatient indefinitely. As a 21-year-old first-year medical student, this was a debilitating and heartbreaking realization.
Only two short weeks after the Canadian volunteer group returned home from Haiti, a one-year supply of oral pyridostigmine arrived at the Project Medishare warehouse in Miami, FL. The medication was delivered to Port-au-Prince that Saturday morning by our weekly volunteer staff.
The Intensive Care Unit coordinator at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, Judith, gave Jimmy the medication and explained to him that with the medicine he would be able to return home and lead a normal life. Jimmy had been ill since April and was near death just a few short weeks ago. When he was asked what the first thing he wanted to do when he left the hospital, Jimmy stated, “return to medical school.” None of the hospital staff had known he was a medical student until that moment.
Jimmy wanted us to extend his sincere thanks to the Canadian group who, by sending this medication, gave him the gift of continuing to live his life and allowing a (future) fellow doctor graduate in a country much in need of medical personnel.
The hospital staff sends their best wishes to Jimmy and his family. And again, thank you to the Eastern Health Canadian team for sending us pyridostigmine.