| Mar 23, 2010
Two girls, who miraculously survived Haiti’s devastating Jan 12 earthquake, were flown to the United States today for extended medical care in San Antonio TX, which will hopefully save their badly-damaged legs.
Bethlie Paul and Naika Etiene, both 10, who broke their legs in the earthquake, were saved from amputation, when they were able to get orthopedic treatment at Lumiere Hospital in Bonne Fin near Les Cayes, Haiti.
Bethlie was in school with 21 other students when the earthquake hit. Twelve of her classmates died. She was pulled from the rubble and taken to a field hospital in Port au Prince where they stabilized her, and put an external fixation device in her damaged right leg.
Naika was at home when the earthquake happened. Everyone in her family escaped from the house, but Naika was trapped under cinder blocks and her right leg badly broken. watch the video
The two girls came to the attention of Medical Teams International volunteers at Lumiere Hospital where two young American paramedics from Medical Teams International cared for them in a wound care unit. With the aid of people and organizations from across the United States, permission was approved at rapid speed to bring them to the United States for treatment.
Dr. Rick Westermeyer, a Portland OR anesthesiologist who volunteered in Haiti with Medical Teams International after the earthquake, had an affiliation with Healing the Children and was able to expedite the trip.
Dan and Chad get Bethlie and Naika ready for bed
Firefighter/paramedics Dan Livengood, from Salem OR, and Chad Ledson, from Portland, OR (both parents of young children), volunteered to fly with the girls to the US where they will be temporarily adopted by host families and given extensive care. The girls will be cared for at the University of Texas Medical Center in San Antonio, where they will be under the care of Kaye Wilkens, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
On Monday, the girls were flown by helicopter to Port au Prince. When the wheel moved slightly on takeoff and shook the helicopter, Bethlie got hysterical thinking there was another earthquake and had to be soothed by an interpretor to ease her fears.
Monday night the girls were cared for at Medical Teams International's team house in Port au Prince by their two paramedic companions and a host of nurses and doctors getting ready to fly out themselves Wednesday after their tour of duty volunteering in Haiti.
The Michigan/Ohio chapter of Healing the Children, arranged for a private jet to fly Bethlie and Naika and their paramedic companions to San Antonio, TX, today where the girls will be treated for six months to a year before they can be returned by Medical Teams International to their families in Haiti.
Marie Davis, an RN from Dallas, OR, has a long history of volunteering with Medical Teams International , (she’s done 46 Medical Teams International missions and we first met her in Indonesia after the tsunami). She explained both girls were suffering from osteomylitis or bad infections in their damaged legs, which would have eventually led to amputation. She said they will need long term IV antibiotic treatment (possibly for as long as six months to a year) before they can be returned to their families in Haiti.
Even the story of the Haitian orthopedic surgeon who treated the girls in Lumiere Hospital in Bonne Fin is a miracle story. Dr. Rudolph had resigned from the staff and was supposed to leave the staff. But he went back to get his paycheck when the earthquake happened and remained to care for earthquake victims.
Chad is a first-time volunteer with Medical Teams International . Dan volunteered with Medical Teams International before in Vietnam where he helped with a “train the trainer” program to teach people in the community, such as taxi-cab drivers, to care for accident victims.
Fred and I learned this whole story Monday night when we returned to Port au Prince. Here, for the frist time in a long time, we had the LUXURY of flushing toilets, electricity and running water (Hallelujah).
We will leave for the United States Wednesday for a week of grandchildren-sitting in Naples FL. Fred will return to Haiti in two weeks for another month-long stint as a volunteer. I’m debating the merits of flushing toilets, running water and electricity before I decide whether or not to return.