This is a personal From the Field story from Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Manager, Andrew MacCalla.
Seven-year-old Lucienne, an orphan in Haiti, is receiving treatment this week for osteomyelitis, a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection of the bone, thanks to the continued support from Direct Relief supporters.
At the hospital in Haiti where Lucienne was initially taken for surgery, patients are treated for free, however, they have to buy all of their own supplies – even the gloves for the doctor. The orphanage where she lives could not afford the supplies needed, preventing her from getting much-needed care.
Upon learning her story while I was in the country this Saturday, I cut into one of the hurricane preparedness modules filled with critical medicines and medical supplies and pre-positioned at Direct Relief’s warehouse in Haiti at the start of hurricane season (June 1). Though intended to care for thousands of people in the event of natural disaster, the modules can also be used for other emergencies like this one.
I sent over the supplies they needed for her: antibiotics, saline, sterile water, gauze, antiseptic wipes, nutritional supplies, pain relievers, ringers, and other items.
Prior to this, she had been in and out of multiple surgeries because the wound continued to get infected. Osteomyelitis is a long-term issue requiring extensive antibiotics and a minimum of a 4-6 week hospital stay until the patient is healed. The dirty living conditions many people deal with in Haiti make it easy for the bacteria to spread to people at risk.
At the first hospital she stayed at, Lucienne’s bed was sitting balanced on rocks and was completely rusted through with no mattress, until we got one for her. Rats crawled over patients and families who were sleeping on the ground. We had to hold a flashlight for the doctor to put in the IV because there were no lights in the room where she was laying next to dozens of other people.
I arranged for her to be transferred to the Project Medishare-run facility, Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port au Prince, one of Direct Relief’s partners. With their good care and our stock of supplies, she should be taken care of for a while.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time— I’m just not always there to witness it.
This experience has affected me a great deal, it’s benefited this girl a great deal, and really, everyone who is a part of Direct Relief has been involved in making this happen. This is why we do what we do.