Friday, November 19, 2010

Brown update

Brown is now with his host family!
Thank you all for your prayers
and donations towards the airfare.
Its amazing to see him finally HERE.
He will be having surgery in January.
They will amputate one leg below the knee
and they will keep the ankle of the other leg
which will help Brown as he learns to walk.
His prosthetic legs will be put on in
surgery with the hope that he can
start walking ASAP.
Thank you to our great host family
for your patience in waiting for Brown to
arrive and for your lovely update!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brown Update

Browns ticket has been bought!
Thank you everyone for donating to this cause.
He will be arriving in the USA very soon and we will post updates and pictures during his time here.

Sorry we have not been doing a good job at keeping the blog updated. We have a LOT of children waiting for medical care and we are having a hard time finding the time to even devote to finding the care for the children in need. And then when we do have hours to spend (spread between several volunteers) we are finding it very difficult to find care for the children. Some of the children need care closer to home, while others are waiting to come the USA. Either way- finding the care is difficult.

We appreciate your prayers for the waiting children and their families!
More soon...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Help Needed

It's time!!

Sweet little Brown is ready to travel to American for life-changing medical care but the the MAT and his referring organization needs some help with the cost of his plane ticket. It looks like his ticket from Liberia to Chicago is going to be about $2,000.

Could you help with a few dollars to get this precious little one here?

Donations can be made right here on our blog (right hand side bar) through paypal or let me know if you'd like to send a check and we can arrange that as well. Please make note in paypal that the donation is for "Brown's ticket".

We will keep you updated on Brown's progress.

Please keep him in your prayers!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lots of updates

Sorry for taking so long giving an update. We have been blessed with hard working new and old volunteers and have had a recent influx of referrals from Haiti, Liberia and East Africa of children who need medical care desperately. We are working on updating the side bar to show the current children that we have waiting to come for medical care (but this will take several days.)

Heart Patients:
We had several children waiting for heart surgery from Haiti. We have been unable to get updates on these children since the earthquake in January. Please keep them in your prayers.

We have several new referrals from Haiti and some older referrals that have been waiting for a long time. One recent referral is a baby with a brain tumor. This child is not doing very well and his family has had so much loss in recent months. Please pray for them!

We still need cardio thoracic surgeons to help with the children who have caustic soda poisoning and neurosurgeons to help with two little ones who have hydrocephalus and need VP shunts.

East Africa:
We have several little boy babies waiting for specialists!

Raul in Romania:
Caroline was able to get Raul (baby with EB) approved for charity care and she is now waiting on Romania to process his approval to come over for medical care. Please keep this situation in your prayers.

Ermane from Haiti:
Ermane is doing well however he will need several more surgeries and his time here has been extended greatly. His mother has to return to Haiti this week so that she can start getting their lives back together post earthquake- she hopes to repair or have a new home soon and start her business back up. Ermane is feeling OK about staying without his Mom but certainly this is going to be difficult! Please keep them in your prayers as well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Raul from Romania

One of our volunteers, Caroline, has been in Romania helping at an orphanage for quite sometime now. She was really moved by one babies plight for life and has been working on raising funds to bring back life saving medical supplies for him. She is also working on getting charity care lined up for him in the USA.

Raul has one of the most devastating diseases, here is a little more about him from Caroline:

Raul was born in October 2009 as part of a set of twins, both affected with a genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa. EB causes skin to blister with even slight pressure or friction. Sadly, Raul's twin passed away at one month old due to complications. Raul was moved to a nearby clinic at five months old, which is where he is currently living. Due to his condition, Raul requires painful daily bandaging and wound care. The only supplies available locally are harsh on his fragile skin, so I am raising funds to continue to supply wound care items from the U.S. Over the last few months with the international bandages I have seen him become a smiley and alert little boy, despite his condition. There is no cure, or even treatment, for EB, but these bandages give his skin a better chance at healing and help to prevent new wounds. Please help me to continue to provide these much needed supplies!

If you are interested in donating to this cause please visit:

If you have medical supplies to donate here are some of the items that are needed prior to her leaving on the 25th are:
skin layers, telfa, non-stick gauze, gauze rolls, etc.

To read more about Caroline and Raul you can visit her blog at:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The Medical Advocacy Team is in urgent need of a host family in Cleveland, Ohio or within a few hours who would be willing to host Ermane and his Mom for the remainder of the stay that they have in the USA.
The current host family (my mother) is coming here to visit soon and the 2nd host family has had a terrible emergency and won't be able to host them.

Please pass this on to anyone you know
Thanks so much!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ermane's Big Flight
Check out this link to view a video of Ermane flying.
Thanks so much Agape Flights for helping to bring
Ermane and his Momma Marie to the USA.
Agape is a wonderful organization doing big things for Haiti.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Host family for Haiti

Friday, April 30, 2010

First day in the USA

Here is Ermane and his host cousin Keller
getting ready to go outside and play soccer
we are so thankful that they arrived safely
and things are going well :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Plane in the air!

Keep the prayers going- the plane is in the air and on
the way to Haiti. There are strong head winds so please
keep the pilot and passengers in your thoughts and prayers.

More soon! :)

Please pray!

We have Ermane and his Mom traveling from Haiti today. There have been weeks of logistics being planned by many people and this morning we found out that there is a four hour flight delay. Please pray that they are able to repair the plane and still travel today. And if not- please pray that things can be changed for them to leave Haiti as soon as possible.

Thank you!

***Also a reminder- please do not copy and paste pictures of children off our blog and post them other places. Thank you!!***

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


We now have a doctor and a hospital! Thank you everyone for coming forward with ideas and working so hard and fast to find Brown the care that he needs.

We do have a doctor for him and we are anxiously waiting to hear if the hospital will accept him for charity care. Please keep this in your prayers.

Ermane and his Mom have approval from the USA to travel and we are just waiting on approval from Haiti and then have to get the logistics worked out for his travel. This MUST be done by the end of this month and we are hopeful that things will come together really soon.

The group that we work with in Liberia is over there right now getting updates and new pictures of all the children so we should have lots of news soon.

I had read that the Neurosurgery teams that were going to Haiti before the earthquake are no longer able to go. We are expecting an influx of referrals from Haiti in the months to come. We are working hard to get our host parents pre-approved.

A need:
One of our partner organizations that does incredible work for the people of Haiti is raising money to get their containers of medical and vital life care supplies over to Haiti while they can do so without paying the typical hefty customs fees. (The fees are being lifted just for a short period of time and this saves them thousands of dollars.) But to ship the containers from the US-to Haiti still costs a great deal of money. Please consider donating to this need at Real Hope for Haiti.

Other waiting children:
If there is anyone out there that is feeling like they know a doctor or hospital who might help some of our other waiting children we would love to hear from you:
We have had several children on the right sidebar for months waiting to get matched for charity care. We have also done extensive searches all over the country and have had a hard time finding places to help them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little updates

Brown is from Liberia.
He needs an orthopedic surgeon.
Know one who might want to help?
We still have several children in dire
need of charity care from Liberia
who continue to wait. Please see the side
bar to read more about the waiting children.
Erman (picture below) and his Mom have
approval to travel to the USA from Haiti.
Now they need to get passports and
the documents completed and they will
be on their way to Ohio. If you had emailed
and offered to help- we really appreciate you!
Thanks so much. We welcome all the help
you have to offer and will be contacting
people soon in the Cleveland area for assistance.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Thank you everyone who donated money and air miles for the waiting children in Haiti. We have enough donations to cover both Erman and his Mom to travel to the USA. Yeah!! We are much closer to having all of the documents gathered that they will need for approval to travel to Cleveland for Ermans facial reconstructive surgery.

We have also had $50 in donations for travel costs that will go towards Erman and his Mom's associated travel costs. Thank you!

We are so thankful that things have come together so fast.
What a blessing for this little boy and his Mother.

In other news... the three year old who was coming to West Virginia is not going to be coming any longer. His parents decided that they don't want him to travel to the USA at this time for medical care. His health situation is not good and because there was nothing else they could do for him the clinic he was at sent him home to be with his Mom and family. Please do keep them in your prayers. It was really a devastating feeling knowing how close he was to having the medical care that he needs. Even with all the specialists and doctors over working in Haiti right now- his medical needs were rare and somethings were unknown about what was happening with his health.

We are waiting on news about a potential hospital for Varney who has been waiting for far too long with severe hydrocephalus. We have run into a great number of road blocks in finding a doctor and hospital to treat him so we are hopeful.

We have a team of volunteers solely working on three of the children in Liberia waiting for Cardiothoracic surgeons. Hopefully this leads to good news soon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Host Family Applications

Click on this link

to download an application if you are interested in hosting a child.

You may scan and email it to If you would like to mail it, please email Kim at the email address above to get the correct mailing address.

  • To apply, you do not need a homestudy or foster care license. If you have these it is nice to keep on file, but not required.
  • We will need identification and background checks on everyone over the age of 18 in the home, but not right away. Some families choses to wait to submit these until they are selected to host a child.
  • Your application is kept on file. Then when a child is coming to a specific area, we search the applications for the closest, most suitable home. If we don't have an applicant in the area, then we put the word out to generate more interest.

Monday, March 1, 2010


We have had $25 in donations and ONE airplane ticket in just the past day. What an awesome blessing. The airplane ticket was donated by someone who is going to use her air miles to purchase the ticket for one of the children. I should have mentioned that this would be a great and welcome blessing instead of money.

I also realized that this entire blog has been asking for a lot of money and volunteers lately. I always feel badly about asking for money but I know that when there's a need its the only way that we have to go about getting donations- every single donation we accept goes 100% for the cost of airfare or other need. We have NO overhead costs at all. Since we don't have overhead costs- that means we don't advertise other than on this blog and when people link our blog to theirs. We don't have any corporate sponsors but have had donations of medical supplies from corporate sponsors in the past.

So here are some pictures of the little boy going to Ohio. Please consider helping towards the cost of his plane ticket- and we need to raise funds for one for his mother as well. Or air miles would be great! Although this little guy looks miserable we have great hope for him and we can't wait to see his "after" pictures. Thanks everyone.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Help needed

We need your help.

We have two children that need to come to the USA from Haiti in the next week if we can get the approvals in place. Both of the children are in urgent need of medical care, the medical care is not available in Haiti even with all the doctors and specialists there right now.

One of the children is a nine year old boy. He was crushed in the earthquake. His face was partially crushed. We have a wonderful hospital and doctors in Cleveland who have come forward to donate their time and resources to give this boy reconstructive surgery. We are also hopeful that we will have a flight for him and his Mom to the USA from Haiti. But we do not have the funds raised to bring them from Florida to Ohio. We will need to purchase two tickets for them- and of course round trip is needed because they will return to Haiti once the boys treatments and surgeries are finished.

The other child is a three year old boy. He will be coming to the USA by himself with an escort. We have arranged for free care for him in West Virginia and we are hoping to have approval for him to leave ASAP. He has been very ill with an unknown illness. Tests need to be run and doctors in the USA are already consulting on how they might be able to help him. The neurological prognosis for him is not good if we can't get him here fast. There are just many unknowns that need answered. We will need a plane ticket for him and we need to raise the funds for this. We will also rely on wonderful missionary flights to bring the child to Florida from Haiti- but we need a ticket from Florida to W. VA.

So funds for three domestic plane tickets is what we are hoping for. I am so grateful to everyone for all your help and support. Every little bit helps! Just use the pay pal button on the side of the blog to make a secure donation. Thanks again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The 3 year old we were seeking medical care for is going to be coming to West Virginia! We are still in need of host family or parent to care for him. We have a family who is able to provide excellent care and therapy for him after he is out of the hospital, but they are unable to stay with him while he is there. If you are able to stay with him during his hospital care, we would love to hear from you as soon as possible. We don't know how long he will be in the hospital. If you can help, please fill out a host family application found on this site, or email Kim at Thank you!

We are also in need of a host family in CLEVELAND. This host family would be helping care for a nine year old boy and his mother while they are in town. The boy is going to be getting facial reconstructive surgery as he was injured in the earthquake. Please consider what you might be able to do to help them- or pass this along to anyone you know in Cleveland. contact Sarah: for more information. Thank you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you so much for helping to fill the need at this orphanage! They were able to purchase nets for each bed, a big bag or rice, beans and 20 gallons of cooking oil. Also $50 worth of fruit and vegetables- which was a TON!

This is just in from Salem:

I let them know we have bed nets, rice and beans for the children. We opened the back of the truck and everyone (including the director!) started SCREAMING, jumping up and down, hugging, whooping, dancing. It was such pure, genuine joy and gratefulness. K. and I were both in tears at their excitement. It was like Christmas morning times 10! You have never seen children so grateful, so thrilled just to get a mosquito net for the bed. We watched as children with enormous smiles on their faces were handed a net and raced to their dorm to start putting it up. We tried to help get the nets up but we weren’t very good at it (as I was told!) so we let them do that. They know how it is supposed to be done. :)

Then K presented the second part of the surprise. She told the director that we were going to take him to the market and buy 100,000 shillings worth of fresh fruits and vegetables for the children. He played it really cool at the market as we filled up the back of the SUV with bags of potatoes, greens, onions, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple, passion fruits, etc. I mean FILLED the back of the SUV. It was so fun. We got back to the orphanage and as soon as the Director got out he grandly opened the back of the SUV to present all the food to the children and everyone started screaming, jumping up and down, dancing, etc again. It was like Christmas morning again! He showed his true excitement when he was with the children – he was dancing and screaming too. :)

The kids helped carry all the food into the house and put it in the kitchen. They kept wanting to pose with their various fruits and vegetables. Everyone stood in the kitchen just laughing, hugging and staring at the food for a bit. It was surreal.Moments like this make us feel so humbled. Each time I experience something like that I realize again just how spoiled I am. How spoiled we all are. How much we take for granted.

We took pictures of the children and got all of their names, ages and information. We are hoping to find sponsors for these kids. They aren’t able to go to school and they really want to. We’re still working out the details but it looks like school will cost less than $200 per child for the entire year.As we were hugging the children goodbye I couldn’t help but get emotional. I will never forget these kids. They have touched my heart is such a special way. Thank you SO SO MUCH for all you have donated and given to help them just a little bit. This food is a short term help for them, but their joy was worth every penny we spent. If we get more money in for them we’ll continue to get things for them as long as we are here. There are SO many needs at their home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

MAT Mini Project

Salem- the co-director of The Medical Advocacy Team is in Uganda right now. She has been there for several weeks and has been visiting different orphanages. There is a little girl (not in any of these pictures) who is 7 years old that needs an adoptive family. Salem was specifically asked to put the word out about this little girl as she is with a family right now who is unable to keep her. Salem is also hearing of many other young children and babies with special needs that need families. If there is a way that we can get the word out for these orphanages and children we will help to do so. If you are interested in more information- just let us know and we will add you on a list to receive information once Salem has it all compiled and is back in the USA.

Salem and a friend visited this orphanage the other day. It is a really poor orphanage that has very little. It is being run by ONE person who is in charge of doing everything for all of these children with little resources. Salem said that there were many children very sick there and that they just don't have the basic things that they need and it was heartbreaking. They had brought a soccer ball for the older children to play with and their little faces just lit up with joy to have one ball to share.

Because of the urgent need at the orphanage Salem would like to be able to do something to help them while she is still there. The most urgent need was the medical needs because of the great risk of malaria in this area. Salem would like to be able to purchase mosquito nets and sheets for this orphanage. Nets will save the lives of the children who are able to sleep under them. The "girls room" is shown below and they have three girls per bed- as you can see there are many children left without a protective net at night.

MAT would like to raise $200 for this need to be filled ASAP. We value your support and generosity in the past and we know we can count on you. Every $1 helps and there is paypal on the right side of this blog that you can use a credit card or other form of payment to send a secure donation. Below is the kitchen that feeds all the children at this orphanage. If there are extra funds raised Salem would like to provide them with some more items that they need.

Salem has traveled all over world and has done humanitarian work. She really is a reliable source of knowing the typical orphanage conditions and to hear her concern is really overwhelming as she is someone who "knows what to expect" and she isn't shocked easily. After visiting here- she was shocked and knew that there would be people out there who would want to step up and help out this orphanage. There are 40 children from infant to teen who live here and then another 40 come here to eat each day. Thanks for considering what you might be able to do to help them out.
Salem will update us once she is able to purchase and distribute supplies there. Many Blessings!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

WV update

Thank you to the families in or near WV who have sent in applications to host. Unfortunately plans have been put on hold while some important details get worked out. We'll keep you updated if things can move forward.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Host family needed!!

We are in need of a host family in or near WEST VIRGINIA.
You will need to commit and complete paperwork right away so we can have you approved. The child who is coming will need you to be at the hospital staying with them while they are in patient and then to bring them home for care afterward. The child is a three year old and is NOT available for adoption as he has a family and will return to his family when he is healthy enough to do so. Please email ASAP with your interest to:

Thanks so much everyone!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The latest....

We do expect in the weeks to come that we will start seeing more need for host families, hospitals and doctors for many injured children in Haiti. I wanted to bring light of a very troubling situation that is now happening in Haiti to many children who need to leave for medical care:

MAT has been so blessed by the response of everyones willingness to help! If you are looking for an application to host parent- please see below. If you still haven't turned in your "short" application- please do so soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Host Family Application

Thank you all for your interest in helping the Medical Advocacy Team, and in hosting medically fragile children! If you are interested and have not yet contacted our team to obtain a host family application, please contact Sarah at for an application to be emailed to you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can you help?

Hi Everyone,
Children of the Promise near Cap Haitien Haiti is in need of both long and short term nurses. Yesterday they were supposed to receive up to 20 children via helicopter from Port au Prince. We think their internet might be out because Robin never heard if they got there or not. They are not sure of what type of injuries the children will have, but there will definitely be wound care. COTP is in the northern part of Haiti and is fairly removed from the chaos going on in Port au Prince. The majority of the work will be working with injured children although I'm sure if there are adults with injuries that traveled north to their community we would be asked to help them as well. Please email me at: if you are interested. I am trying to find out flight information as we speak. I am planning to leave as soon as I can, but they will need nurses for weeks to come, so if you can't leave right away they will still need you. It is possible to fly directly into Cap Haitien.
Sarah Williams

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update 01/20/10

Our plans to send a medical team this weekend are on hold. The facility we were going to use ended up letting another team already on the ground in Haiti use their facilities. We are trying to get our doctors and nurses on to already established medical teams going to Haiti.

Sarah's husband is currently in Florida trying to get to Haiti and pick up their son Isaac. My (Salem) parents are waiting to hear if their new daughter received her visa today. The situation in Haiti is getting worse every day. These kids need to get out of there as soon as possible. Please continue to pray for the children of Haiti.

We are currently looking at options for getting our medically fragile children out of Haiti. Many of these children had little chance of surviving in Haiti before the earthquake; now their chances are even slimmer. Not only are these children in need of medical care, the orphanages desperately need the resources and space in their orphanages for the thousands of newly orphaned children.

Please remember: if you are interested in applying to become a temporary host family to a child on a medical visa, please contact Kim at

We will keep everyone updated as things progress.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We need surgeons that can do amputations!

Please ask your family and friends. Call your local hospitals. We need some surgeons who can go to Haiti ASAP.

Email Salem at

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Attention Medical Teams

We have recently come into contact with an organization interested in helping us get some medical teams to Haiti. World Harvest Missions has a facility in Haiti. They are interested in putting together some medical mission trips.
They already do medical mission trips to Haiti throughout the year and have the facilities to accommodate teams. They can provide transportation, generators, clean water, security, etc. They have a plane leaving Florida sometime this week with medical personnel and medical supplies. They may have a couple of seats open for qualified medical personnel who would like to join the team. If you are interested in this please contact me. This is going to be a very difficult trip and things will be VERY primitive.
We are also planning to put together some teams in the coming months to rotate down. If you would like to join a team - we want to hear from you.
You must have your passport and immunizations, can pay your way to Haiti and understand how difficult these trips are going to be.
Please email ( with the following information:
1. Your Full Name
2. Specialty/Background
3. Dates You're Available
We will be in touch as we start getting all of the details together. Thanks so much everyone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where to donate money:

If you want to help Haiti please consider donating to one of these organizations who can help the victims of the devastating earthquake:

1.Real Hope for Haiti (donate paypal button is on the right side of the blog)

2. Heartline Ministries

3. Love-A-Child

4. Partners in Health

5. Children of the Promise Orphanage

Or you could donate to us at The Medical Advocacy Team (paypal donate button on the right). All funds will be used 100% for families and children that we work with who have children with special healthcare needs who have been affected by the earthquake. (We are waiting to hear from most of them- keep praying!)

(this list will be updated as we hear from more partners)

We are trying to put together a medical team to go to Haiti soon. If you have a medical background and are interested in this please email Sarah at or Salem at ASAP!!

Heartbroken for Haiti

Please join us in prayer for Haiti.
Specifically pray for the MAT children who have returned home. Pray for them and their families safety and well being. Pray for the MAT children who are still waiting to come. Please pray for the families of the children who are here in the USA. We likely won't hear from the families for days if not weeks.
Please pray for the missionaries and organizations that we work with. That they are safe. That they stay healthy and safe and find all the supplies that they need. That they are free from fear and have the knowledge to make fast decisions that could help save lives.
Thank you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Please meet Varney. Varney and his Mom are from Liberia. Varney has been suffering from hydrocephalus for a long time. His entire life we presume.

The size of his head has gotten so large that there are pressure sores on it. I can't even imagine the amount of pain that would feel like and how grouchy I would be with that much pressure on my brain. Sometimes my children are heavy when I carry them and I complain. "Whoa you sure are heavy!" But I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for Varney's Mom to carry him. Yet she carries him... and carries on with her life- never stopping and never giving up.

Varney and his Mom went many places in Liberia looking for help. They finally found a doctor to see them. This doctor has done some VP shunts in the past but after examining Varney- he felt that he was too far gone for surgery. This doctor also informed Varneys Mom that he doesn't even have the VP shunts were he willing to operate on Varney. He also admitted that sometimes the patients die- because he isn't really a neurosurgeon. He told Varneys Mom to bring him home- for soon- he would die.
Six months has passed since that time and Varneys Mom has cared for him with loving hands and a faithful heart. Varney continues to live and bless so many people with his presence. Soon with prayer and some fundraising we will be able to bring Varney and hopefully his Mom to the USA for lifesaving surgery. Supplies will be brought over for Varney and his Mom while they wait for all the paperwork to go through so that he will be able to be more comfortable and so that the sores on his head can be kept clean. If he gets an infection he could die very fast.

I know that these pictures are difficult to look at. They were hard for me at first to look at too. I can feel the pain in his eyes and the sorrow in his mothers eyes just from the pictures. Varney's head size is massive. Bigger than the worse case I have ever seen. And its imperative that we pray for him and his Mom.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Children

As you can see from the side bar we have many new referrals for children this week. Please keep them and their families in your prayers while they wait for life saving medical care. We have also been blessed with some new volunteers over the past few weeks and we plan to update the contact information for our volunteers on this blog soon.

We will be taking the time to write more about the new children who have come into our program. We feel that in order for people to understand the trials and tribulations each one of them has gone through their stories are important to tell.

We are looking for someone or a group of people that could help with fundraising. Perhaps this is a gift you have and you want to donate some of your time to this effort. We will need to be able to help some of the referring organizations with the costs of paperwork processing in country. Some of the organizations just aren't financially in a position where they are able to cover the added expenses of $400-$1000 for testing, labs, document recovery, passport, and visa processing. And of course our largest expense is helping with travel costs for the children to come to the US or for the children to travel to another location within their country or continent for medical care.

Our host family coordinator is busy updating our host family list so that we are ready when medical care has been arranged for the new children. If your interested in hosting a child- please contact Kim at:

Thanks for reading our blog, praying for "our children and families" and caring about your global neighbors.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Emmanuella in the news!

Some information has been changed for privacy purposes...

Emmanuella Michel, 5, is so lively that it’s hard to picture how thin and fragile she was only two months ago. She is pictured with her aunt Checelie Michel and host brother Caleb D. Emmanuella came to the United States from Haiti for heart surgery in October and has been staying with Caleb and his parents Rick and Darla D. of Washington state. Because of this family, 5-year-old Emmanuella Michel of Haiti received a priceless holiday gift — a life-saving open heart surgery.
“It’s a Christmas miracle,” said her host mother Darla . “She’s just like a normal child now.”
During an interview just before Christmas, it was hard to imagine that the robust child bouncing around the newspaper office was gravely ill just a few weeks ago — until she lifted her shirt to show off a 6-inch scar down the middle of her chest.
Emmanuella now has a chance at a normal life because Rick, Darla and Caleb D. made it their mission to help Haitian children. The idea started when Caleb met a schoolmate who was born in Haiti.
“I met Joshua P. He was friends with Caleb at Whitney,” Darla D said. “I knew in my heart this was something I wanted to do.”
Not in a position to adopt, the D family, who attend The Bright Christian Fellowship, found another way to serve.
“Our family wanted to help children with medical needs,” D said.
Through the organizations Partners in Health in Haiti and The Medical Advocacy Team, a program of Remember International, INC. in the United States, they learned about the gravely ill Emmanuella. At 5, she was unable to walk and suffered terrible chest pain.
“They would just pray over her because she could not move. God sure answered those prayers, huh?” Darla said, getting a nod of agreement from Emmanuella’s aunt, Checelie Michel.
Emmanuella’s family saved up enough money to get her to a Partners in Health doctor, whose diagnosis was Tetralogy of Fallot. This is a combination of heart abnormalities, two of which are particularly dangerous: a hole between the ventricles and an obstruction of blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs, according to the American Heart Association. Because blood can’t get to the lungs easily, it doesn’t pick up enough oxygen.
For Emmanuella, it meant she had no energy to grow and thrive — or even to walk. The D’s agreed to host her and Checelie while she underwent open-heart surgery. Medical and travel costs were covered by volunteer doctors, Partners in Health and The Medical Advocacy Team.
After she arrived at the end of October, the first order of business was to get Emmanuella seven immunizations that were required before surgery. The D's did this with the help of Rod Dalseg, Island Hospital’s director of diagnostic imaging. Darla said she was working at Calico Cupboard when a group from Island Hospital came in for a meeting. She asked if they knew of anybody who could give immunizations as charity, and Dalseg said he’d find out.
“He called me later and said ‘I have it handled.’ So that was a miracle,” Darla said.
Dr. Jeanne Olmsted at Fidalgo Medical Associates did the job. Emmanuella had heart surgery at Emmanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland two weeks later.
“She’s been a little trooper, and so has my husband Rick,” she said.
Many have chipped in to help Emmanuella and Checelie. People from The Bridge Christian Fellowship brought them clothes, and many have come into Calico Cupboard and offered money, clothes and food, she said. The owner of Papa Murphy’s gave them free pizzas.
“Pizza is their favorite food here,” Darla added.
Checelie is making headbands and selling them for $10 each to raise money to take back to Haiti. She said the money will help her and her fiancé build a house. Darla said anyone who wants to buy one can email for more information.
The D's family has appreciated being of service, and the experience has made them more appreciative of life in our country.
“You just think, you’re so grateful for what we have,” Darla said.