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.
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.
“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.”