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DENVER, Aug. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Team Zaryen, Port-au-Prince’s amputee soccer team, will tour the United States this fall, running soccer clinics for wounded members of the U.S. military and focusing attention on the great strides being made by those with disabilities in Haiti.

The tour will be co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare, who co-founded “Healing Haiti’s Children” – a program that has made prosthetics available to every child who lost a limb in last year’s earthquake in Port-au-Prince. All of the players on Team Zaryen have received prosthetics courtesy of this program. The earthquake in Haiti last year left thousands of amputees in its wake – many of them children and young adults.

The team and its U.S. tour are some of many positive results to have come from the “Healing Haiti’s Children” program. The program makes a multi-year course of prosthetic care and physical therapy available to every child who lost a limb as a result of the earthquake. Included in the rehabilitation is the “Return to Sport” program where Team Zaryen coaches children and youth in this fast-paced sport so that they too can enjoy the fun and excitement of sport and learn to lead normal lives.

The Knights of Columbus have committed more than $1 million to the “Healing Haiti’s Children” program through Project Medishare, which runs the premier hospital for amputees in Haiti.

“The Knights of Columbus is honored to be able to be able to help transform the lives of children and young people in Haiti and to bring healing and hope to some of the neediest people in our hemisphere,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “We are very happy to have the members of Team Zaryen, who have overcome so much, with us at our convention.”

“Following the earthquake, there was a tremendous outpouring of support from the people of the United States, much of it coordinated by America’s armed forces,” said Dr. Bob Gailey, director of rehabilitation services for Project Medishare. “Team Zaryen is now looking to return the favor by running clinics for wounded American service members this fall in the United States, and we are honored to be working together with the Knights of Columbus to assist these young people in Haiti and to be providing these clinics for the U.S. military.”

A key reason for forming the soccer team was to change attitudes in Haiti and to help remove the negative stigma associated with being an amputee in Haitian society. The members of Team Zaryen believe their example will prove to the youth of their nation that despite any handicap, there are no limits to what an individual, a team, or a nation can achieve.

Project Medishare for Haiti was founded in 1994 by Drs. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier when they assembled the first team of faculty from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Nursing to assess the health status of Haitians and explore ways of rebuilding their healthcare infrastructure in a long term and meaningful way.

The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest lay Catholic organization, with more than 1.8 million members around the world. Last year they donated more than $154 million to charity and donated more than 70 million volunteer hours to charitable causes.

Representatives from Team Zaryen with Jason Miller & Dr. Bob Gailey, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Project Medishare, at the Knights of Columbus 129th annual Supreme Convention in Denver, CO.

Special thanks to Perry Ellis for outfitting Team Zaryen for the US tour!

This article can be found on the PRNewswire by clicking here!

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Wilfred Macena

Twenty-six year old Wilfred Macena was at work welding in a shop when the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. Like so many others, Wilfred was trapped under the rubble. He was able to free himself but not without escaping injury. Wilfred damaged his right leg when it was crushed by falling debris.

Wilfred stayed at home with his injured leg for three days before finally getting to Adventist Hospital. He waited at Adventist Hospital for four days but ended up leaving out of frustration as he was never seen by a doctor and went to the neighboring Dominican Republic. Seven days after being injured in the earthquake, Wilfred had an above the knee amputation on his right leg in the Dominican Republic. At first he was very hesitant about the procedure. He asked the doctor what his prognosis would be following the amputation and was told that he would be able to walk again with a prosthetic leg which made him feel comfortable with the procedure.

On April 1, 2010, Wilfred went to the Project Medishare field hospital to have his leg fitted for a prosthetic. Upon his return to the hospital on April 3, the staff explained to Wilfred how to walk with the prosthetic and within five minutes he was up and running! Dr. Barth A. Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, was in the tent and asked Wilfred if he wanted a job with Project Medishare. Wilfred currently works in the Prosthetics and Orthotics laboratory and clinic at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. He takes measurements for prosthetic limbs and knows how to fix them. He has learned how to speak and understand English while working for Project Medishare. Wilfred is also a mentor to anyone that is facing amputation and for those being fitted for prosthetics. He is the perfect example that life does go on even after amputation and is a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. He is playing soccer again with the Project Medishare Team Zaryen Amputee Soccer team. He has a one and a half year old and is expecting his second child in July.

Wilfred’s spirit is incomparable. It takes two hours to get from his tent home to work every day by taking three tap taps. He repeats the same long, treacherous trip to get home each night. He says that he is extremely grateful to Project Medishare because if he did not work there he would not be able to work as he lost everything, including his welding tools, in the earthquake. It is fair to say that the feeling is mutual; Project Medishare is very grateful to have Wilfred as part of our team.

Wilfred Macena at work in the Prosthetics and Orthotics laboratory and clinic at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

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By Jennifer Browning

While Haiti’s only critical and trauma care facility, Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, is now operating with a predominantly Haitian staff, we are still accommodating up to 43 volunteers each week.

Starting in October, volunteers are required to pay a $300 tax-deductible fee to help offset the costs of our operation. This fee will help offset the cost of Project Medishare’s  operation and enable a continuation of the life-saving work at happening at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, which is currently Haiti’s only critical care and trauma hospital.

As many of the news cameras have turned away to cover other areas of the globe, we are receiving fewer donations to cover the operating cost of our critical care and trauma hospital in Port-au-Prince. Project Medishare relies primarily on individual donors to keep our programs operating in Haiti. As we move from relief to recovery, we are asking our Bernard Mevs volunteers to assist with offsetting the cost of their in country expenses while volunteering with us in Haiti. The $300 fee is a mere fraction of the cost it takes to send volunteers to our hospital each week.

Project Medishare has received an outpouring of support and thousands of volunteers have signed up to help. The primary focus is bringing volunteers with a medical background and requiring at least an eight (8) day commitment and based on the needs coming from the hospital in Haiti.

Due to the lack of space at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, we can’t take medical students or staff personnel (non-medical) until further notice.

As part of the partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare and their local staff, Project Medishare volunteers not only assist with providing healthcare, but also work to train in the various specialties including prenatal and neonatal intensive care (PICU/NICU), spinal cord rehabilitation, nursing, family medicine, general and specialty surgeries, physical therapy, prosthetics, and pharmacy.

Interested volunteers can CLICK HERE to sign up and make sure to fill out the entire form.

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Bernard Mevs nurse, Sindy Abdon, goes over a patient chart with Dr. Eric Dehoux, a physician volunteering from Canada. While volunteering over the next two weeks, Dr. Dehoux is working with doctors and nurses in the medical surgical unit to extend their knowledge in treating and caring for those with spinal cord injuries. Those coming to volunteer with Project Medishare are not only here to help treat patients, but also train their Haitian medical colleagues. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Six months ago, Project Medishare volunteer doctors and nurses in collaboration with the University of Miami Global Institute, rushed to the aid of those affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Since January, Project Medishare have treated over 30,000 patients and recruited over 5000 medical volunteers

Marianna, 15, begins learning how to walk with her prosthetic leg for the first time. Assisting her is Cedieu Fortilus who is training to become certified prosthetic technician.Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Last month, Project Medishare transitioned out of the tent hospital and into an existing community hospital, Bernard Mevs, in a partnership to continue making healthcare accessible to the Haitian people. Here trauma and rehabilitation care are provided and our permanent and rotating volunteer staff are conducting a medical training and education program in critical care, trauma and rehabilitation for the local medical staff.

In addition to joining forces with the Bernard Mevs staff, Project Medishare has hired 82 local medical professionals making our hospital staff predominantly Haitian.

The local medical staff is receiving training in all areas including prenatal and neonatal care, general surgeries, specialty surgeries, spinal cord injury, physical therapy and prosthetics.

Haitian nurses who have never worked with preemies before are learning the intricacies of prenatal and neonatal care, as Project Medishare runs the only PICU/NICU in all of Haiti. Currently, there are five students studying to become physical therapy technicians, and two others are training with a prosthetic orthotist to learn how to fit prosthetics and become prosthetic technicians.

“In Haiti we have a dream that we will be able to learn,” Marie Carmelle Charles, a physical therapy tech student said. “Now with this training opportunity, that dream is coming true.”

As Project Medishare moves into this next level in providing training important funding is needed to continue expanding these efforts as we work toward improving access to healthcare in Haiti. Please join Project Medishare in this important endeavor, click here to make an online donation today.

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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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