Haitian girl receives life-saving heart surgery

April 8, 2013

by Brianna Wilson, Medical Program Manager in Haiti

A mother in Haiti credits God with her daughter’s healing as Samaritan's Purse staff rejoice in His work.

By Brianna Wilson, Medical Program Manager in Haiti

When 5-year-old Petit Clona arrived at the Samaritan’s Purse medical clinic in Cité Soleil, Haiti, our triage staff knew immediately that she was extremely ill. The clinic’s Haitian physicians and a Canadian volunteer doctor soon discovered that Clona had heart failure. If she was going to live, she would need surgery right away. 

Healthcare services in Haiti are limited and very difficult for anyone to navigate, let alone a family from the most destitute neighborhood in the Western Hemisphere. In North America, if this same child was sick, a pediatrician or pediatric cardiologist would have been summoned. The little girl would have been admitted to an Intensive Care Unit and would have undergone multiple diagnostic tests stat.

‘Stat’ in the medical world is short for the Latin word ‘statim,’ meaning ‘immediately.’ In Haiti however, it seems few problems are able to be solved stat—including many medical emergencies.

First, we had to decide which hospital was likely to accept Clona. In Haiti, people with serious illnesses are often turned away from medical facilities because they can’t afford their required tests, or because advanced treatment is simply unavailable. But praise God that after many phone calls, emails, and much advocacy, Clona was admitted to a local hospital and examined by a visiting pediatric cardiologist.

Partnering with another Christian organization, we were able to send Petit Clona and her mother to the Dominican Republic for surgery. After a few weeks in-hospital being nourished and strengthened for the operation, Clona underwent surgery. Overcoming the odds, this brave little girl recovered and came back to Haiti fully healed.

Today we had the opportunity to visit her for the first time since she returned. She was all smiles, and noticeably chubbier and more playful. Without the surgery, Clona wouldn’t have survived. Thankfully, we were able to diagnose her condition and help her family navigate the complex healthcare system.

But the story doesn’t end there.

While Clona and her mother were in the Dominican, her baby sister wasn’t being breastfed and her father couldn’t afford formula. Through our clinic’s formula program, we were able to supply food for the baby while mom was away, helping her stay strong and healthy.

Amazingly, the story doesn’t even end there. Clona’s mom was not a Christian prior to these events, but has now accepted Christ and is looking forward to being baptized. She credits God with the healing of her little girl. She will also be trained in microfinance, which will empower her to run a small business in support of her family.

Such a story is not unique here in Cité Soleil, Haiti. Please pray for those in similar situations who require both medical care for their bodies and Jesus Christ in their hearts.