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Archive for May, 2010

By Jennifer Browning

It is fortunate chance that three-month-old Seinthia Michel was able to receive her endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) procedure this week as part of Project Medisahre’s pediatric neurosurgery program.

Three month old Seinthia was abandoned at Hopital St. Michele in Jacmel. Seinthia received life saving surgery for her hydrocephalus this week from Project Medishare's pediatric neurosurgery team. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

At the end of April, Judy Hoffman, President of Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC) visited Hopital St Michele in Jacmel to see the sister of one of the kids at the foundation who was ill.  A doctor approached Judy to ask if ACFFC could help with a baby who had been abandoned there.

“That is all we had to hear! She took us to see the baby and we all fell in love,” Hoffman said. “There was this beautiful tiny little girl lying in a crib, clean and cared for, but alone.  They showed us where her head was bulging [due to hydrocephalus].”

A Haitian doctor told Judy that he hoped ACFFC would take Seinthia because the baby was going to die and there was nothing the doctors at St. Michele could do.

“I called a doctor friend in Port-au-Prince who said as far as he knew, the shunt surgery was not done in Haiti and children like this die, but he would check and get back to me. “

All night into the next day Judy and everyone at ACFFC kept thinking about the baby.  The next morning Judy started calling and searching online for someone who could help.

“Some time that Sunday afternoon, I found reference to Project Medishare and neonatal care.  After a few emails Judy received the contact information for Maguy Rochelin, Project Medishare’s nurse liaison in Haiti.

“Next day, I called [the field hospital], spoke with the CMO and a nurse and they explained a team would be coming in,” she said, “and that we needed a CAT scan and an assessment.”

After several trials and tribulations, Hoffman along with a few staff members where able to bring Sienthia to Project Medishare’s field hospital for an assessment and to read the CAT scan.

Nurse practitioner Alicia Hill and surgical trip coordinator Ann McNeil get ready to take Seinthia to surgery. Seinthia came through surgery with flying colors and has the opportunity now to grow and develop as a normal child. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

“Based on the CAT scan and assessment, the word was that she would ‘probably’ be fine and they did not see congenital brain damage on the CAT scan,” Hoffman said.

Surgical team organizer Ann McNeil said children who are as young as Seinthia have a better chance at growing up and living a normal life.

“We have pediatricians who do outreach and who refer children to the program. We have doctors who now know about increasing head circumference, so children are now referred earlier, before their heads get big. Now at birth they know as soon as the head starts increasing they get referred to the program. Most of the kids now are between birth, some were born two or three days before we arrive,  or they  are under a year old. So those are children that we see have the opportunity to have a normal life, which means that they have a normal brain that can develop.”

Joseline Pantaleon, who works with the children at ACFFC, brought Seinthia to Port-au-Prince from Jacmel. Pantaleon said she is happy that Hoffman was able to find doctors who could help the child.

“I hope that after [Seinthia] has this operation,” Pantaleon said, “that she will grow up and be able to be a normal child.”

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Genia Francoi smiles at her 7-month-old daughter Violonda as they wait to see what doctors find out from lab tests. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Not all children scheduled for surgery head to the operating room. Sometimes complications occur such as a fever or signs of possible infection.

Violonda, who was originally scheduled for endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), awoke with a fever, so doctors postponed the surgery. In addition, doctors took a sample of brain fluid to send to the lab to check for an infection. If Violonda doesn’t have an infection, and her fever returns to normal, then doctors will proceed with her surgery.

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By Jennifer Browning

Fifteen-month-old Margaret giggles and coos at Marie Lourdes as she kisses the child’s face. Marie, a cousin, started caring for Margaret after the child’s mother died during childbirth.

Today is especially hard for Marie, because it is Mother’s Day in Haiti. Tears stream down her face as she begins to talk about her cousin, Margaret’s mother.

“I am happy that even though she is sick, that she is able to smile,” Marie said. “But it should be Margaret’s mother here today, on Mother’s Day, making her smile.”

Fifteen-month old Margaret is all smiles before doctors prep her for surgery.Surgeons performed endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) on Margaret this morning to cure her hydrocephalus. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

When Margaret was four months, Marie began to notice that something wasn’t right. As Margaret started trying to sit up, she wasn’t able to hold her head up.

“That’s when I noticed that something is wrong, because I have two kids and they never had this problem. I knew that something wasn’t right when she couldn’t hold her head up and sit up right.”

Marie took Margaret to the pediatrician who told Marie the child may have a brain problem and recommended a CT scan. After viewing the scan, the doctor said that it looked as though Margaret had hydrocephalus.

“The problem was that there was no one in Haiti who could do the surgery Margaret needed,” Marie said.

In most places, hydrocephalus is diagnosed shortly after birth, a somewhat simple operation allows a child a greater chance at a normal life. Unfortunately, this is rare in Haiti; instead when undetected, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that flows normally through a healthy baby is blocked or unabsorbed. When this happens, the fluid creates pressure on the brain causing swelling, severe damage and eventually death.

Months later another doctor told Marie that he knew of a program that treated hydrocephalus at Hopital Universitaire de la Paix, which is where Project Medishare’s pediatric neurosurgery team worked out of before the earthquake. The doctors at La Paix directed Marie to Project Medishare’s nurse liaison Maguy Rochelin who assists with the pediatric neurosurgery program.

When Marie found Maguy, the nurse was working at Project Medishare’s field hospital.

“When we arrived at the hospital, to look for Maguy, doctors examined Margaret, because they could see her head was large,” she said. “They called Maguy to come see Margaret, and that is how we got into the program.”

Surgeons performed endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) on Margaret this morning. This type of surgery allows for the CSF to escape relieving pressure on the child’s brain.

“I am so happy for what Project Medishare is doing, everyone here treats all patients as equals,” Marie said. “This hospital helps a lot of patients. I believe in the doctors who have come here to help Margaret, and I am so thankful.”

Click here to learn more about Project Medishare’s Pediatric Neurosurgery Program.

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From May 21-24, Dr. Seth Thaller led a plastic surgery program to Haiti through Project Medishare’s Plastic Surgery Program. Of the 18 procedures performed by the team, six of the surgeries were cleft lip and one involved correcting a cleft palate.

Project Medishare has a continuing partnership with Haiti’s Ministry of Health and the University of Miami Department of Plastic Surgery for cleft lip surgeries.

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Dr. John Ragheb, from Miami Children's Hospital, performs an ultrasound on a tiny patient who arrived at the Project Medishare field hospital. Dr. Ragheb is in Haiti this week with his pediatric neurosurgical team.Photo by Jennifer Browning.

 

By Jennifer Browning

Project Medishare’s Pediatric Neurosurgery program is in full swing this week in Port-au-Prince at Bernard Mevs Hospital, where up to 20 surgeries are scheduled to happen over a three day period.

In 2003, Dr. Ragheb created the Pediatric Neurosurgery Program through Project Medishare to treat hydrocephalus in children in Haiti. This all-volunteer surgical team travels to Haiti twice per year to perform surgeries on children with hydrocephalus.The program’s goal has evolved to develop a neurosurgery training program with Haiti’s Minister of Health and the Dean of the National School of Medicine in Port-Au-Prince.

This week a neurosurgery team from St. Louis are joining Dr. Ragheb and his team.

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By Jennifer Browning

Project Medishare began fitting amputee patients with prosthetics at the beginning of April. As part of Project Medishare’s Amputee Rehabilitation Program, volunteer Certified Prothestists Orthotists (CPO) not only go down to work each week with amputee patients at the Project Medishare field hospital, but they have also been training locals to be prosthetic technicians.

CPO Mark McVicker said he really enjoys working with patients at Project Medishare’s field hospital.

”It’s a privilege to work with patients that are so thankful for all they have left and for everything you do for them,” he said.

Mark said that while the team is doing good work, that they are limited since they currently don’t have a prosthetic lab in Haiti.

“There’s a huge need for prosthetic fitting here. When we have the laboratory [in Haiti] we will be capable of doing more things, for the moment we are very limited, it’s working but it’s a fact that we could have be doing more with a real prosthetic laboratory.”

Cedieu Fortilus is training with volunteer Certified Prosthetic Orthotists to become a certified prosthetic technician. Photo courtesy of Laurene Leger.

Cedieu Fortilus, 34, began working with volunteer CPO’s when prosthetic limbs began arriving at the field hospital in April.

“The training is going well with Cedieu, he’s a fast learner, and he’s also our interpreter,” Mark said, “we are getting him up to speed, but there are already a lot of things that he can do already.”

Not only does Cedieu fit patients with new limbs, he will also take care of coordinating future prosthetic fittings. Cedieu is provided with the amputee patient’s contact information in order to reach them to make an appointment for their fitting.

Cedieu has already learned how to prepare a prosthetic leg, adjust it for the patient in order to connect it to different components of the patient’s leg. He is also assisting patient’s with basic physical therapy exercises, as well as teaching them how to use their new prosthesis in order to help them feel more comfortable using their new limb.

Cedieu said he is excited that he is able to help at the field hospital.

“I like the fact that I’m helping the patients,” he said, “that I’m helping my fellow Haitians.”

Before being hired by Project Medishare, Cedieu was a health agent with Oxfam at Hospital Clinic in La Croix Perisse, he also had part-time work as an interpreter for the UN/Minustha, the Navy, and the US Air Force.

“I’ve being helping for the past 11 years as an interpreter for some medical groups. I’ve been in the medical field for so many years now, so that’s why I feel very comfortable in this job,” he said. “I like my job as an interpreter because I feel that I’m helping the doctors that are coming here to help us Haitians. I can bring comfort to [the patients] when I help with the communication, because I help the communication pass better between the patient and the doctors.”

With his translating skills, he is also able to talk to the patient in regards to helping them understand what their prosthetic limb can do for them.

“Many times I see a patient that thinks that because they have an injury from the earthquake, like an amputation, they think that it’s over for them, that their life is done, and that society will reject them,” he said. “I try to help them understand that with this new limb, they have a second chance, and a chance to have a better future.”

Cedieu realizes how important it is to have prosthetic technicians in his country, and he is eager to continue learning. He said he is eager to continue his education and learn how to perform the more complicated fittings.

“I want to have a better knowledge in fitting prosthetics, and I am happy that Medishare is helping me,” he said. “I hope that Medishare will start training more Haitians to be prosthetic technicians.”

It is important to have local prosthetic technicians on the ground, not only to do the initial fitting, to change a prosthetic limb in the future. For instance, if a technician fits a prosthetic today for an 8-year-old, that limb will need to be replaced when the child turns 12 because the kids are continually growing.

Cedieu said would like to see Haiti have a real rehabilitation hospital, especially for patients with spinal cord injuries.

“With a rehab facility amputee and spinal cord patients can get help in order to get back to their old life….a better life.”

*Laurene Leger contributed to this story.

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By Jennifer Browning

On Easter Sunday, Georgia Jet Critical Care Medflight Flight Nurse, Jean Saden, assisted a flight crew in helping a young girl named Farah get medevaced to receive care in the United States.
The flight crew were taken to the Project Medishare field hospital where they helped stabilize Farah, and eventually transported her to Boston. Farah sustained a 45 percent electrical/thermal burn to her upper body.

“It was quite a moving experience for the entire flight crew,” Saden said. “We were surrounded by Project Medishare’s medical volunteers as we worked on Farah. I was so impressed and honored to meet them. Farah was so sick, and the medical staff were quite attached to her and her family.”

After her experience, Saden felt the need to do something to help Project Medishare’s efforts in Haiti, so when she returned to her home state of Georgia, she shared Farah’s story with my family, friends, and co-workers.

“Everyone wanted to help in some way,” she said.

Saden’s flight coordinator, Jeff Gustafson told his wife Karen the story. Karen, who is the troop leader for a Girl Scout troop, was so moved by the story that she decided to share the story with her  troop. Girl Scout Cadette Troop 1648 decided to make Project Medishare their annual project for the year.

Girl Scout Cadette Troop 1648 from Lawrenceville, Georgia rallied their community to collect 25 boxes of supplies to be sent to Project Medishare's field hospital in Haiti. Photo courtesy of Karen Gustafson.

The Girl Scout troop began collecting the donations the middle of April and worked on the project for about two weeks.  The girls asked their families, close friends, and other Girl Scout troops to donate.  One troop donated 10 boxes worth of supplies, a local doctor’s office donated medical supplies. Many families donated soaps, shampoos, blankets, sheets, new baby bottles and baby supplies, children’s clothes and shoes. Some of the local children also donated many of their toys to send to the children being cared for in the field hospital in Port-au-Prince. Other organizations that helped in donating and gathering supplies were the Gwinnett County Fire/EMS services, the Atlanta Women’s Roller Derby Team,  and staff members at Critical Care Medflight.

By the end of their donation drive, the Girl Scout troop shipped 25 boxes of supplies.

“Each toy has a personalized note from each girl. Never underestimate a girl scout,” Saden said.

The girls boxed up the donations and Gustafson brought them to the hangar. The next move Saden and Gustafson had to figure out was how to get the supplies to Miami to be shipped to Haiti.

“I was quite overwhelmed by the number of boxes and had no idea how I was going to get them to Miami,” Saden said.

While standing in line to ship some personal items, Saden began telling her story to people in the store. One woman suggested a company called Roadway to see if they might donated the shipping. Saden called the shipping company, who approved of the shipping donation and sent all 25 boxes at no charge.

And for Farah? Saden has been following her progress and reports that Farah, and her Aunt Rose is at Shriner’s Burn Center for Children in Boston, and Farah is recovering well.

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