Two weeks ago I loaded up the truck with 8 kids and 8 parents. We drove the 3 hours to Port-au-Prince, the first time that the children and even some of the parents had been to the big city, to see a team of visiting surgeons. Most of the kids had chronic ear infection issues, including Johnny, the 10 year old from the Genada's orphanage who has the perforated ear drum. An ENT surgeon was coming and I was very hopeful.
Our first day lasted from 6am when I left my house until 11pm when the docs stopped seeing patients. Most of my kids, including Johnny, were dismissed with strong ear drops because the hospital lacks the microscope the ENT needed to fix their perforations. But three children were scheduled for surgery.
Chedline, a little firecracker of a girl, had an inguinal hernia that caused her significant pain. She was scheduled for a 9am operation but she didn't go into the OR until 4:30. We entertained ourselves in the meantime (on no food and water because you have to have an empty stomach for surgery) with crayons, cards, and self-portaits with my camera.
Dayana is a 13 year old with ambiguous genitalia. I gave one of my most convincing speeches ever to convince the docs to do her more complicated plastic surgery and at the last minute, her mom got nervous and decided against it. She let the doctors examine Dayana under anesthesia but nothing more. I have been searching for care of Dayana for 2 years and it was terribly disappointing to lose that opportunity. Her mother is my friend and I see her regularly, so hopefully once Dayana starts having periods and developing more decidedly as a female, she will agree to it.
Dayana and Chedline were done by 6pm. But little Tchivenchina aka "Bebe" was still waiting. In Creole, bebe means "deaf/mute"; the 6 year old is not, in fact, deaf or mute, but she had ear blockage that seriously affected her hearing and therefore her speech. We waited and waited until finally at midnight, the doctors took her into the OR. At 1am, we carried a whoozy Tchivenchina into my apartment on Delmas 91 and we all spent a short night before heading back to Gonaives in the morning.
It was a terribly long day but I would have waited hours more to get Bebe the operation that would make her no longer bebe. She hears correctly now and little by little, she is learning how to speak correctly too.
Thank you so much, doctors, nurses and support staff from the LEAP Foundation!