Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I mentioned some bit ago that I "happened" upon several Haitian migrant worker camps in the Gettysburg area.  My brain started ticking away, and I came to the conclusion:  if I will go down to Haiti (and spend time and money) why wouldn't I spend a little bit of money/time to help these folks in Gettysburg?

I had run an idea via email past my Chair that goes something like this:
I want to bring several interested 1st year medical students down to Gettysburg with me over the students' first and second years to provide a service-learning opportunity for the students, provide some care for the workers, and give me a chance to practice Creole  :)

Yesterday I had a meeting with my Chair, and the short of it is that I may be receiving funds to start that process.

No kidding.  :)   I may be receiving (existing) grant funds to travel down to Gettysburg to work with this group of very underserved people...that means I can get paid to do it!   This is VERY good news and may be a great step toward helping me get paid to ultimately go to Haiti.   How very good is that?!

God is continuing to move puzzle pieces around.  It's quite an elaborate plan (and better than anything I could EVER have come up with)...and that seems just like Him


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tough situation

Hi Everyone,

A bit ago I emailed about a Haitian infant now in the US named Pierre.  His situation is complex.  In short, he came for cleft lip/palate repair.  But in due course he has now been found to have multiple endocrine problems including
  • "diabetes insipidus"--basically he cannot regulate his sodium level on his own.  So he produces VERY dilute urine which leads to very high levels of sodium in his blood.  Untreated this is fatal.  He is on medications now.
  • hypogonadism--he doesn't produce testosterone.  So he'll eventually need testosterone replacement.
  • secondary adrenal insufficiency--he doesn't appear to be producing cortisol.  This requires medication.
He probably is probably not producing growth hormone which, if untreated, will lead to brain damage among other things.

He has not had surgery yet, and it appears it will not be done right now.  The big question is this:  if he goes back to Haiti will he live?  Given the situation the outlook would be grim to grave, at best.  He would need medications and regular lab testing (to adjust the medications), as well as a physician who could manage his conditions.
I understand that his mother is a single mom living with an aunt/uncle, and that she may not have a job. 

Another option would be to look for an adoptive family in the US.  This boy will require a family with health insurance that would agree to cover all costs (including surgeries, I should think).   The mom may be willing to consider an adoption.

A longer-shot (I've not heard of this happening) would be to have the mom come up here to become a citizen.  This approach probably isn't even close to realistic.

If you have suggestions please let me know.  Please pray about this.  Pray for wisdom and opportunity.  Pray that God's Will would be evident.  Quite seriously, I mean this.  This is a very difficult dilemma.

You can also direct further questions to Vanessa Carpenter (Angel Missions Haiti):


Friday, August 22, 2008

Pestel Overview Video

Here's a 7-8 minute video that hopefully gives a decent overview of Pestel. I'm planning to use this (or something similar to it) when I go to various places to give talks about Pestel. Please give me your thoughts and feedback!!!
The background music is all from live recordings of when I was down in Haiti.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Medical school

I received an email yesterday just before heading out for the day.  The email is from Dean Simmons--he is the dean of the medical school.  He had received my name from the current president of faculty affairs at the medical center (Dr. Chorney).  I had met with Dr. Chorney last year to talk about my interest in global health.

In short, the dean wants to know my thoughts on whether global health is important to our students' medical education (!!!). 

Wowzers.  This seems like a 'golden opportunity', an open-door etc etc.  And not one that I sought out or strove for.  I know this sounds cheesy, but I really see a parallel with how God worked in the hearts of rulers in the biblical times and how He is working in the hearts of the 'rulers' of the medical center (my chair, now the dean of the medical school...and did I mention that the Dean of the Medical Center who is the President/CEO of the medical center will be going down to Ecuador later this year to see what the med center is already doing.  Ecuador is where the Global Health Scholars Program will be working, and I'll be going down there next month).  

I want to make sure that my email response is honoring to God by being truthful and honest.  So please pray for my response, if you would.  And for my heart--that I would turn this over to God and that He would use my email as He sees fit.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Accidents in Haiti

Earlier this year a boat from Pestel sank, killing dozens.
"The boat sank after taking on water about 150 metres from shore late on Saturday, the officials said on Sunday.
The boat was on a two-day journey along Haiti's southern peninsula, transporting passengers, food and charcoal to Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.

It made several stops to take on passengers and cargo and was overcrowded."

A few weeks ago a truck lost its brakes and slammed into a market with the same unfortunate outcome.
"Dozens of people are feared dead and many more injured after a truck ploughed into a busy market in the town of Cavaillon in southern Haiti."

Now this: a truck traveling out near Pestel (near a village called Beaumont) tried to cross a swollen river (from Faye). The truck had about 60 people on it. So far they are estimating that about 30 of them died in the accident.
You can read about it here.

It was probably a truck similar these ones:

Accidents are a major cause of disability (see the story on Alfred) and death in places like Haiti. We take things like car inspections for granted (or we even grumble about them). When you read about these very real tragedies [consider, for example, the toll this one accident will have on families...on communities. Poor communities become poorer, if that is possible] you begin to realize how basic things like double-yellow lines and Departments of Transportation contribute to the health of people.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CURE International

One of the guys that you often see in my videos/photos related to my recent trip to Pestel is Alix. He's our translator as we go from village to village. He's quite good, and a really neat guy. Anderson and Alix got along so well that it broke up some of the boredom Anderson otherwise would have experienced.

Alix's fiancee, Sherli, is in need of hip surgery. She was born with a bad hip and it's now at the point where she can hardly walk. I was able to put her in touch with CURE International--Dr. Scott Nelson has agreed to do the surgery in the Dominican Republic. He'll wave his fees but she'll need to pay about $3000 for the hospital stay and 'hardware'.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in helping out financially, please let me know. As I find out more information I can share it with you.

BTW--that is not a normal x-ray.


For those of you who have dearly missed my emails  :)   I have been in the habit of posting on my Haiti Medical Blog



Keynote speaker

I was asked yesterday if I would be the keynote speaker at this year's Primary Care Day at the Hershey Medical Center.
I thought it was a joke.
Nope...they were quite serious. This is a one-day event in late October that presents many different faces of primary care. It's sponsored by the medical center with invitations to med students, pre-med students, and interested high school students.
Apparently the planning team (faculty and students) were kicking around names of who they might like to invite, and someone tossed in my name as a speaker on "Global Health".
What a kicker! So of course I quite graciously accepted. Should be fun!

I also have the opportunity to speak again to the Kiwanis group in September. That's always a really neat evening. They've also "been there" from the start. I had spoken to them in July 2007, a couple months before taking my first trip to Haiti...well before I had ANY clue of where God was REALLY taking me. They've been a great encouragement to us.

ALSO, I'll be giving an update to my church in two weeks. I'm working on a video for it, and I'll probably post it online once I finish it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


This is Pierre. He's about 9 months old now, but he came to the US with Angel Missions Haiti at around 4 months of age for repair of his cleft lip and palate.

However, there were complications. In particular Pierre was found to have several other medical problems, including "diabetes insipidus" which requires him to take a medication every day, and to have regular blood checks.

The big prayer request here is for wisdom. He still needs to have the surgery done, and there's been a delay in that. After surgery, though, we are not sure whether or not he will be able to survive in Haiti. This comes down to the very practical problem of finances and lack of resources.

You can see this same photo of Pierre as well as some other kids (including Pharah--the girl with hydrocephalus I took back to Haiti in June) at Angel Missions Blog.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dr. Warf, Neurosurgeon

This is a really good article written about Dr. Ben Warf, a neurosurgeon now working over in Philly/Wilmington. He's been doing free hydrocephalus surgeries for kids from Haiti. The group responsible for organizing this has been Angel Missions Haiti--the same group that has been involved with many of the Hershey heart surgeries.


Dr. Warf worked for a number of years with CURE Intl in Uganda with good friends of ours, Charles and Melissa Howard (who are still working as missionaries in Uganda). An email from Charles provided the open-door for Angel Missions Haiti to begin this wonderful partnership with Dr. Warf.

Haiti Happenings

A few intriguing things on the horizon...

I visited a migrant worker camp down in Gettysburg a couple of weeks ago and 'happened' to hear that there is also a smaller group of migrant Haitian workers that comes up to PA every year. This caught my attention. I'm pursuing this further. What I'd love to see develop is this: I could take several medical students down to the camps during the students' first and second years. We could interview the workers, provide some medical care (because no one speaks Creole in Gettysburg, so any medical care that is provided is definitely based on a best-guess). Then, in the students' 4th year we would go down to Haiti for a week or so. More to come on this front, I believe.

Our neighbor across the street came over yesterday and in the process mentioned that she has a number of Haitian American friends who go down every year, have helped to build water systems in Haiti. So we asked her to give them our names and phone number. An amazing piece of this puzzle. Have you noticed yet that these puzzle pieces just come flying in out of no where??

I've contacted a half-dozen organizations so far by email and just yesterday heard back from one of them that is working up the road from Pestel. They are interested in opening up a line of communication, so to speak.

My church has agreed to include Haiti Medical in next years' budget!! That's really cool, and very encouraging. A good number of people in the church are interested in becoming involved in various ways, and I'm extremely grateful. The church wants to adopt this as one of its outreaches and for that I could not be more thrilled!

I have never had the delusion that this is Me doing this work, or that it is My program...my 'mission'. I am being pushed, prodded, and moved by God to participate in His good work. I have not engineered this (because frankly, whatever I have tried to engineer usually either falls flat or pales in comparison to what God brings out of His treasure chest). And I am so excited to see others that God is stirring up to take part in this.

Why Haiti? Why Pestel? Only God knows.
God is Good and what He designs is Good. And it is a great joy...an invigorating, inspiring joy...to participate in this way.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nakeysha cleared to go home!

Nakeysha had her final cardiology (post-op) appointment yesterday and everything looks great! They cleared her to return to Haiti! Her parents are very excited. We're in the process of working out the travel arrangements. Here are a few photos of her after surgery (with a few "bonus" photos thrown in!):