We got up at 5 am to pack for our trip to Chantel, a small village on the Southwestern end of the island of Haiti. We were
contacted by one of our Vidacare Clinical Specialist who had word of the
Catholic sisters’ desperate plight fighting Cholera. Several patients had died
because they could not start an IV and they had no doctors or others to help
them. We agreed to make this part of our mission to deliver EZ-IO technology to
their small clinic.

 

We chartered a Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plane to fly us there.  To drive would have taken over 8 hours round trip and we did not have that much time to spare.  MAF holds a special place in my heart
because two of its founding pilots, Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, were killed by
Auca Indians in the Amazon Jungle, trying to reach them. I had the privilege of
saving the life of an Auca Indian woman a few years later during a mission trip
to the Amazon.

 

The flight gave us a spectacular view of the island and the contrast between the slums of the cities and the beauty of the mountains and Caribbean Sea.  The sisters were waiting for us at the airport and
drove us to pick up our translator in Les Cayes. They did not speak English and
I do not speak Creole.  Our translator, Sarah, was a 17-year-old American
who can only be described as spectacular. She took over and worked like she had
been part of our team for years. 

 

An hour drive from the airport to Chantel revealed a Haiti that I had known and loved 40 years ago; rural, people working in the field smiling and waving at us, houses with thatched roofs, travel by burro and donkey, clean dirt
roads, crossing streams and a tranquility that comes from isolation away from
the big city slums and crime.

 

The sisters invited us into the Convent for a fresh fruit drink and snack, when suddenly a call came to rush to the clinic. A baby was dying of dehydration and nurses could not start an IV after more than 30 minutes of
trying. They grabbed me and placed a needle in my hands, crying for me to start
the IV. I told them I had something better, but they and the parents were
afraid, never having heard of drilling into the bone. They elected to make
several additional attempts without success.  Finally, Sarah our
interpreter told them, “It’s time to let the doctor save this child’s life”. I
was ready. I paced an EZ-IO in a few seconds and began administering lifesaving
saline.  They were astonished. What better way to introduce new technology
than to actually use it to save a life, even before I had a chance to show them
anything.  

 

We took the baby into the main hospital in Les Cayes for further treatment.  Nurses there were also in shock about the EZ-IO but immediately asked me to place an EZ-IO in a vomiting newborn, whose mother had
Cholera. The baby was not morbid, so I decided I should meet the medical
director and get permission before barging into her emergency room and taking
over care. She had never heard of the EZ-IO and only knew about the rare
complication of osteomyelitis (bone infection) that she thought surely would
result from such a “barbaric” procedure.  Then Sarah stepped up to the
plate and offered to be a volunteer for a live demonstration.  That
convinced the director and the other doctors of the safety and ease of using
the EZ-IO. They converted to enthusiastic advocates.  We sped back to the
airport to catch the MAF plane back to PAP before the afternoon thunderstorms
grounded us for the day.

 

We arrived in PAP in time to visit St. Damien’s Pediatric hospital, not too far from the airport. It is a beautiful modern hospital, the best we had seen in Haiti. 
It would be at home in any US
city. We arrived after 4:00 pm and the receptionist told us everyone had gone
for the day and we would have to return in the morning to see the administrator
or the head doctor, Father Richter. Our interpreter, Charles, told him we were
delivering over $10,000 of equipment and his eyes lit up. In a flash, Sister
Judy the administrator showed up, thanking us for our donation.  She was
already familiar with the EZ-IO from their associated hospital in Ohio, and had used them to save many lives in Haiti. They had
run out of needles and did not know how to get any more.  She was also
very interested in our OnControl biopsy needle for their pediatric cancer
patients.

 

 

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