Archive for October, 2007


Robendji Saurtilive clings to her mother as they wait for Robendji’s time for surgery. In the recovery ward at Hopital Universitaire de la Paix, a sense of community has formed among the mothers.Photos by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE–While the fans keep the air from being completely stale, the recovery room is still hot. This is where the waiting takes place. The mothers and caregivers sit here with their babies waiting for a nurse to come in and call their child’s name. And after surgery, this is where they wait for their baby to recover until it is time to go home.

Most recovery rooms are quiet, but as you walk down the hallway you can hear babies crying, mixed in with chatter, and sometimes the voices of mothers singing prayers. While other recovery rooms in Haiti offer observations of voluntary individual isolation, walk into the mother’s world of wait here and you will see that these mothers have created a sense of community.

Some of the mothers who were brought in through Healing Hands of Haiti attended a workshop offered by the organization. During the workshop, the organization informed the mothers how to care for their babies after surgery. So maybe a small bond was created through the workshop, but look into this room and you will see that this bond has grown.

While Rosaline’s little girl, Phoebe, was in surgery, Rosaline held Vigiline’s daughter, Semia, as if Semia were her own. It is a common scene here.


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Nurse liason Maguy Rochelin visits Bianca in the recovery ward. Maguy helps Project Medishare keep ties with organizations like Healing Hands of Haiti. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE–After living and working as a nurse for ten years in New York City, Maguy Rochelin decided to move back to Haiti. She now lives in Port-au-Prince.

“I love my country,” she said.

Two months ago, Maguy was hired as Project Medishare’s Nurse Liaison. She helps Medishare stay in touch with partnering organizations like Healing Hands for Haiti as well as Haiti’s Ministry of Health.

It’s been a memorable trip for Maguy. For the first time since nursing school, she scrubbed into surgery today.

“This morning when I went into surgery I was in another world,” Maguy said. “It was amazing what I saw this morning.”

Maguy was here when Dr. Ragheb came to Haiti to assess the children with hydrocephalus, but this is her first medical trip with the organization. She said that so far, working with Medishare is an incredible experience.

“I feel so happy because people are coming from The States to help my Haitian people,” she said. “To me it’s great, and I feel so good about it. I feel that I am doing something so worthwhile.”

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Bundled in blankets, Marie Celestine rests after her Ventricular Petroneal surgery. Marie was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus immediately after birth. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE–Hours before the surgical team would return, Marie Nesline Neika Celestine was born Saturday at 2 a.m. at Hopital Universitaire de la Paix. It was evident she had hydrocephalus.

This morning Marie had surgery where the surgeons performed a Ventricular Peritoneal. Different from Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV), in this procedure a shunt is placed to reduce the amount of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain by draining it into the abdominal area.

Project Medishare’s Nurse Liason, Maguy Rochelin, said the baby has a better chance for a normal life since the condition was diagnosed at birth.

“That baby was so lucky to be born here on that day,” she said. “We were there at the right time. When I spoke to Dr. Ragheb, he said the earlier we take charge of the situation the better off it is for the child.”

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By Jennifer Browning

sammie_bernier.jpgPORT-AU-PRINCE–While the main concentration here in Port-au-Prince is to treat the children with hydrocephalus, it is hard to deny those with other issues.

Yesterday morning as Ann McNeil was on her way to visit the hydrocephalus children, a lady was waiting outside the recovery room with her two month old infant. Her child, Sammie Bernier, had spina bifida, a condition that in the United States is normally fixed immediately after birth. Spina bifida has caused a lump to form on the lower end of Sammie’s back. The lump contains spinal fluid, which has redirected a portion of the spinal cord to grow outside of the body.

While scheduling is tight to operate on the hydrocephalus children, the doctors were able to squeeze Sammie into the operating room schedule. The operation was successful, and the bump with the spinal fluid was reduced.


Carolyn Domina brings Sammie Bernier back to her mother who was waiting in the recovery ward. At fourteen days old, Sammie went through surgery to treat her spina bifida. After her surgery, the infant was already showing signs of spinal fluid shifting which meant the baby would develop Hydrocephalus. The next day Sammie underwent another surgery where a shunt was placed in order to treat her hydrocephalus.Photos by Jennifer Browning.


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Renaud Elysee kisses her son Prince a few hours before he went into surgery. Eight-month-old Prince was diagnosed with hydrocephalus four months ago.  Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE–Eight-month-old Prince began having seizures three months ago so his mother took him to the doctor. He was examined and his mother was told that he was fine. A month later his mother started noticing that his head seemed to be a bit larger than his body. Prince was taken back to see the doctor and he was eventually diagnosed with hydrocephalus.

Prince’s father said that money wasn’t the reason his son’s condition wasn’t treated right away. The issue was a getting a visa to send Prince to the United States for Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) surgery. While there are neurological surgeons in Haiti, none of them perform ETV, mainly due to lack of funding in the country so in order to have the procedure performed parents have to take their children out of the country.

Thanks to the partnership here between Healing Hands, Haiti’s Ministry of Health, and Project Medishare, Prince had his surgery today.

“I feel relieved that [the surgery] is over,” the Renaud Elysee, the child’s mother said. “Now that my son is out of surgery, I feel a load has been lifted.”

Prince cried most of the morning because he was hungry due to the food restrictions required for surgery. His surgery was successful, but it wasn’t until he was able to eat that Prince settled down and stopped crying.

“He’s feeling better now that he has eaten,” she said.

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Pediatric neurological surgeon Dr. Jeff Blount stops by the recovery ward to check on a few of the hydrocephalus patients like Bianca. This is Dr. Blount’s first visit to Haiti. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE—As dark clouds hovered above threatening rain, the team gathered outside for breakfast at 6 a.m. With twelve surgeries scheduled today, it was necessary to get an early start.

Before beginning the operations, the surgeons stopped by the recovery room to check on the children they had operated on the previous day. Only one child, Coby, showed signs of possible complications, as the morning progressed Coby seemed to improve.

Once the status of the children from yesterday’s round of surgery, the surgeons will begin again.


Dr. Karl Valcourt places an IV access into Coby’s arm. Coby was operated on the previous day, so the IV access was placed for hemodynamic stabilization. Dr. Valcourt works as a pediatric intensive care doctor at Children’s Medical Center of Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

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Esperancia Simon was abondoned in Les Cayes, about a five hour drive from Port-au-Prince. After her Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy, Baby Hope will have a chance to live a relatively normal life. Photos by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE—Almost 120 miles away in a town called Les Cayes, a carpet bag was placed on a doorstep. When the owner of the house discovered the bag, it wasn’t until the bag started moving that she discovered its contents contained a little girl who obviously had hydrocephalus.

Whole Harvest Mission in Les Cayes made sure Esperancia (whbaby_hope02.jpgich means “to hope for” in French) was taken to a doctor. The local pediatrician estimates the little girl is five to six months old. Whole Harvest Mission got in touch with Healing Hands for Haiti to inquire about surgery for the baby’s condition. After a series of emails, Dr. Ragheb received word of Esperancia along with the baby’s X-rays. Her hydrocephalus was diagnosed as severe.


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