(March 23, 2010 , PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Two 10-year-old girls, Bethlie Paul and Naika Etiene, barely survived Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Today they escaped near-death and amputation of their severely-damaged legs when they were airlifted out of Haiti to San Antonio, TX. The two were saved thanks to Medical Teams International, local Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TV&R) paramedics, Dan Livengood of Salem, Ore., and Chad Ledson of Portland, Ore. and other aid agencies.
The girls were treated with orthopedic care at the Lumiere Hospital in Haiti. Naika was injured when she was trapped under cinder blocks at her home and her right leg sustained traumatic injuries. Bethlie was cared for immediately after she was pulled from the rubble of her school where 12 of 21 of her classmates died in Port-au-Prince. Medical Teams International volunteers Livengood and Ledson cared for the two girls at the Lumiere Hospital wound care unit. It soon became apparent that the girls could lose their legs if they did not get more help in the U.S.
Several organizations sprang into action, moving them to the U.S. for treatment. Dr. Rick Westermeyer, a Portland, Ore. anesthesiologist who volunteered in Haiti with Medical Teams International after the earthquake, worked with an aid group, Healing the Children, to expedite the trip.
The Michigan/Ohio chapter of Healing the Children, arranged for a private jet to fly Bethlie, Naika and their paramedic companions to San Antonio, TX where the girls will be treated for six months to a year before they can be returned to their families in Haiti by Medical Teams International.
Paramedics Livengood and Ledson, fathers of young children, volunteered to fly with the girls to the U.S. Host families have agreed to temporarily adopt the two girls and provide extensive care for them over the next six months while they are at the University of Texas Medical Center in San Antonio. There, Kaye Wilkens, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, will be responsible for their care.