An anxious LIFE Team member treats Haitian woman
Just before noon one day in November 2010, Michael Peirone, a physician assistant from Barrie, Ontario, watched a young lady walk into the medical clinic in Carrefour, Haiti that was set up by a LIFE Team from Global Aid Network (GAiN).
He couldn’t help but notice that she was carrying a small package that was folded in a tiny green knitted blanket. The bundle was placed on the bench beside her and it didn’t move. As soon as Michael saw her, his blood went cold. He was certain that inside that blanket was a baby who had died.
Michael continued to treat patients, one after the other, and watched as that lady slid the package further and further down the bench to the front of the line. “I began praying in my head, ‘God please don’t let that woman bring me a dead baby, please!’. I had hoped that the doctor that was set up at the table next to mine would get that patient instead of me.”
When her turn came, the lady picked up the bundle and came to Michael’s table. Like everyone else she sat before him and shared about the headaches, sleeplessness, and infections that she had been suffering since the January 12th earthquake. With no words, Michael then reached out and took the bundle from her lap. “It felt like it must have weighed three or four pounds, most of it blanket weight,” shares Michael. “I placed it on my lap and unwrapped it.”
Inside was a baby boy with a green knitted cap that matched his blanket. His name was Desir and he was born at 24 weeks gestation (normal is 40 weeks) to this lady’s sister. Desir was the tiniest human being Michael had ever seen. “He looked like a bird, with arms smaller than my fingers and a head that fit easily into the palm of my hand,” recalls Michael.
At this point, Desir still wasn’t moving. “It was a miracle he was even alive,” shares Lindsey Schacter, GAiN’s LIFE Team Manager. Michael placed his stethoscope on Desir’s chest and heard both a strong heart beat and clear lungs. Yet, Michael still knew that he was at risk for brain damage, infections, lung disease, eye disease and numerous complications. To add to the severity, he was unable to feed normally.
Desir’s mother had gone to the hospital for a few days after his birth, but left soon after because she was afraid to be alone at the hospital.
Michael convinced the lady to get the baby’s mother and he, along with one of the interpreters and Lindsey, took them to a Red Cross field hospital. Despite Michael’s interpreter being friends with the administrator, the hospital would not see the baby because the mother had previously left the hospital against their advice. She had forfeited the right to be treated.
Instead of driving home, the team went directly to a public maternal hospital. For the next few hours, Michael begged and pleaded with five different people to get Desir to see someone. At one point, a doctor gave him a quick checkup but told them to come back the next day to get the baby fully examined.
When the clinic opened the next morning, the team was ready to drive the family to the hospital. But to Michael’s disappointment, they never saw the Desir or his mother again.
“All I can do now is just pray they went there on their own,” shares Michael.
As the team left Haiti a few days later and Michael reflected on this profound moment, he hoped that this family felt deeply cared for and loved while they had been with him.