Haitian Hearts: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

28 Jun

pain-de-singeDr. John Carroll is one volunteer whose work in Haiti has never been, as Teju Cole puts it, “about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” One of the few, I’d say.

Today I am going to do something I’ve never done before, and re-post one of Dr. Carroll’s blog posts for the Peoria Journal Star. ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ reflects the reality of the charity he and his wife run, Haitian Hearts, more viscerally, I think, than any annual report, fund-raising brochure or heart-tugging television ad. 

Recent conversations and social media texts:

Jean-Michel

Jean-Michel texts, “I hope they want me to come back and visit.” He doesn’t know that shortly after his heart surgery, when he was a little boy, his ICU nurse overdosed him on fentanyl and he quit breathing. But we got him back.

Sadly, a number of health care professionals very quickly arrived at the same conclusion why Jean-Michel quit breathing that morning. It wasn’t good. And a heart surgeon banned Jean-Michel’s nurse from ever working with his patients again. Are you sure you want to return, Jean-Michel?

Rose

I terminated my pregnancy today, Dr. John. My OB doctor told me that my last pregnancy with my heart disease was just too difficult. But I know the medical system does not want to make the effort for Rose’s baby or for Rose. They are poor Haitians and don’t count. I have to hang up because her healthy three-year old is crying loudly next to the phone. And I feel sick.

Suze

My abdomen is swollen and I can’t walk. Plus I have a fever. I still take my blood thinner and see the Haitian cardiologist. When will you be here?

Katia

My heart valve was replaced years ago and I am 30 weeks pregnant. Please write me a letter to get me to “Miami”. The C-section for my first baby three years ago at the General Hospital in Port almost killed me. I am scared. I can’t do this again. Dr. John, please write the letter and get me out of here.

Daniel

Can you order my medication from France? I heard it is cheaper there.

Dieudonne

Please, my Father, get me a visa to come back to be with my host family again. And how is your family, Father?

But, Dieudonne, your wonderful host mom is gone forever.

Please, Father, help me. Do something. (Sixty-six desperate phone calls over the weekend from Dieudonne and they continue now.)

Heurese

I lied to you and used the money for my rent, not for the echocardiogram. I live in a tiny room in Carrefour. My landlord will take my key if I don’t pay. (Sobbing…) I have lost my children. No one here cares about me. I walk the streets a lot and think about death.

Keket

After her breast biopsy in Port, Keket gave birth on the tap-tap, or was it in Saint Marc? Others say she had the baby in Cap Haitien. Who really knows or cares? Both Keket and baby are doing well. But she refuses to leave her village high in the mountains because she is breastfeeding and she feels good. And she has no money to take the bus back to Port, let alone to pay for her mastectomy.

Mondesir

Your patient is cleared to go back to Haiti. He is doing great and anxious to see his little boys and wife again. He had no hope nor future six months ago. Now he does.

(Names have been changed but not the details.)

(Some names have been changed, but the details have not been altered.)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: