Marie’s family was slowly rebuilding a house to shelter their family of 8 after it was destroyed by last year’s earthquake. With little money, construction was done with “cheap concrete” and materials and they had only a tarp for the “roof”. As she sat beside her little 3 year old brother studying for her finals at school, a storm arose and the tarp acted like a sail pulling down the wall. She dove to get her brother to safety but the wall came down on her, crushing her spine at waist level. Her family did not know what to do and Marie laid there all night in the rain in severe pain. Her brother was uninjured. The next day they were able to get a truck and load her into the back to go to local hospital. She lay in a bed for 2 days with nothing being done and they decided to transfer her to the pediatric hospital in Port au Prince.
They discovered her T12 and L1 level of her spine was crushed and severely displaced and unstable. Her spinal cord was injured and she had paralysis from hips down. With any movement-eaven log rolling her, she has terrible pain. She cannot sit up at all. A spine stabilizing surgery needed to be done and a team from the Mayo clinic was graciously going to donate the procedure and hospital stay. The only thing needed was to get her there. International evacuations with commercial air ambulances can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Wynn, who is an administrator at the Haiti hospital met her and “fell in love with her beautiful smile.” He and paramedic Jon began to search and send out requests to help her. Missionary Flights is a cargo company that has weekly flights to Port au Prince to provide supplies to missionaries and they graciously donated the trip via a cot secured to the floor of their DC-3 into Fort Pierce, Florida. Grace on Wings was found through “a friend of a friend” and plane costs was donated from “Brothers and Sisters” charity.
On a beautiful blue-sky day, we met Marie and her mom and exchanged smiles. She had a Bible written in Creole clutched on her chest. We assessed her and transferred her to our cot and then carried her to our aircraft and prayed over her. After a 3 1/2 hour flight in an unpressurized loud cargo plane, “Nellie”-our Mitsubishi MU-2 plane must have been an amazing improvement. Wynn came along as an interpreter and friend. We placed headsets on her with Christian music and found out she loves music and loves to sing.
We arrived at Mayo Clinic and Marie was tucked into her new bed. She smiled for a picture with Wynn and finally had hope sparkling in her eyes. She will have her surgery in a few days and begin her long rehabilitation. We pray everything goes smoothly and that her family is able to rebuild back at home.
Wow what a brave little girl who has been through so much in the past year and 1/2! I was honored to be able to help this little hero.
Thanks to our volunteer staff: Dr Milstead, Hal, Matt and Bob, and for team at Missionary Flights for making it happen!
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