MIAMI (CBS4) — Shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti two and a half years ago, a non-profit started by two University of Miami doctors opened one of the only critical care hospitals in the country.
CBS4 News Anchor Shannon Hori joined a group of South Floridians who recently traveled to Port-Au-Prince, to get a first-hand look at how this tiny hospital is helping to provide needed care.
One of the patients she met was Nicholas Claudy.
Claudy fell off a bus and almost paralyzed a few weeks ago. One of the medical volunteers for Project Medishare said that his spine was broken in a way that any wrong turn could leave him paralyzed. For that reason he had to be kept still for three weeks.
He was cared for in the new spinal cord injury unit at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. One of the two South Florida doctors behind the hospital is Dr. Barth Green. He’s a surgeon for spinal cord injuries and one of the founders of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis but his passion is Haiti.
Ten years ago Dr. Green performed surgery on Haitian resident Pasha Vorbe who was shot in Port-Au-Prince. He had to go to Miami for surgery. Pasha said he never expected a South Florida surgeon would teach him so much about his own country.
“I don’t regret being quadriplegic today because I got a chance to meet him and he showed us a way of living better,” Pasha said.
Pasha and his wife Angele are now volunteers in Haiti for Project Medishare. Unlike most Haitians, they are financially secure and could afford to move elsewhere. They said that’s not an option.
“I would feel like I would be giving up. Giving up on Haiti. Giving up on everything,” Angele said. “And that would be worse than anything I could think.”
At the hospital, Shannon also met a boy named John Sica. He had hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain. There are many children in Haiti with hydrocephalus because of the high rate of malnutrition.
Dr. Green’s daughter, Jenna Green, is the organization’s development director.
“The leading cause of death an hour away from South Florida is dirty water and malnutrition for children. And there’s so much difference we can make,” explained Jenna.
In the children’s unit at the hospital, Shannon met 7-year old Eveline Bellevue whose heart was failing. She was on a ventilator and desperately needed heart surgery that doctors in Haiti couldn’t do. Project Medishare volunteers were trying to get her passport and find a hospital in the United States to perform the surgery. Sadly, Eveline didn’t make it through the night.
They can’t all be saved. But there are success stories. Like that of Nicholas Claudy, the man nearly paralyzed. Doctors didn’t know if he would walk again but after a successful surgery, he did walk. On his own, to thank the medical team taking care of him.
Most of the patients don’t have insurance. There is a waiver system in place but Project Medishare mostly counts on the generosity of donors.
Click here if you’d like more information about Project Medishare. You can donate time, or money. All of it is appreciated.