“That’s the scariest thing I have ever experienced.” Dottie said as she tells me about her recent trip to Haiti.
While she and a team of school teachers were in Jubilee Blanc for a week in February, a tiny 5 year old PK-3 student named Odilove became ill with a respiratory infection. His oxygen saturation dropped to dangerously low levels and the clinic and school team scrambled to find an oxygen tank or concentrator for him. They were finally able to borrow a concentrator from a local orphanage.
Dottie was so moved by her experience, that she quickly raised funds to purchase a small oxygen concentrator which was sent to Jubilee in early April with a church team from St. Simons.
Odilove improved for awhile, but became sick again. His short life has been difficult: his father passed away unexpectedly last year and his mom stops by only on occasion, so he is cared for by his grandmother who also has other children in her care. The staff at Klinic Jubilee sent Odilove for more testing and he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and started on medication. For a time, he began to recover and gain weight.
The school team was shocked to see him on May 17; he showed up at school with a severely swollen belly and legs. His oxygen levels were critically low and he was started on continuous oxygen from the new concentrator. The government hospitals were closed due to an ongoing strike and the clinic and school staff prayed about where to take Odilove for further care.
On May 19th, things were going smoothly until the generator (which powered the oxygen concentrator) broke down. Without the oxygen, Odilove’s oxygen saturation dropped to 55%. Within minutes, people were praying and dropped what they were doing to help. Amos fixed the generator, Beaver went to Port to pick up new parts, Alex and Laura cared for Odilove, Robbie and Katie searched Gonaives for a oxygen tank (which they were given by the still-closed hospital with no questions asked!). All the while, Odilove slept peacefully and his saturations improved to the 90’s.
Odilove still needed more testing and care, and an adult cardiologist who was in Gonaives examined Odilove and was concerned that Odilove might have a heart problem. I was messaging LaLa and Katie about Odilove through the day while making rounds in ICU. A friend, who also happens to be a pulmonologist and works with a nonprofit organization that provides clean water systems in Haiti, was also making rounds. I decided to get his insight on Odilove’s case.
“You know, a friend of mine is at the hospital in Mirebalais”. It turns out that Kevin’s friend, a pediatrician from the US, was working at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) for another week. After relaying this information to the team in Haiti, they decided to make the 3 hours drive to take them there. A couple smart guys rigged an inverter and batteries to keep the oxygen concentrator going, and the team was off.
Just two hours after reaching in ER at HUM, Odilove had been evaluated by several physicians and had a heart ultrasound. We received a detailed report via e-mail from Dr. Eric: Odilove’s overall heart function was good and he did not have fluid around his heart. His condition was due to the effects of tuberculosis and malnutrition.
Odilove was admitted to HUM, received amazing care, and started to improve. He even started smiling and getting in trouble with the nurses! A second heart ultrasound a couple days later revealed a small hole between the bottom chambers of his heart (a VSD or ventricular septal defect). The VSD has a 50% chance of closing on its own, but may require surgical intervention in the future.
Odilove is back in Jubilee now, still on oxygen but improving in the care of LaLa and Katie. He will need continuing treatment of his tuberculosis and malnutrition (medication, nutrition, vitamins/minerals) as well as periodic trips to HUM and Port-au-Prince for check ups and echocardiograms (cardiac ultrasounds) to check his VSD.
From Katie, LaLa, Robbie and Alex who took Odilove to HUM and cared for him around the clock, to the individuals who donated funds for the oxygen concentrators, to Dr. Eric and the physicians and staff at HUM, to the people across the US and Haiti who helped and prayed for Odilove……each person did their unique, essential and beautiful piece…..each thing woven into a tapestry by the Master Artist…..all for one little boy. One tiny boy who is precious and beloved. And we are so thankful.