Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tropical Storm Noel

In the 90’s a hurricane hit Haiti. The wind blew non stop for 24 hours in the mountains on Haiti’s southern peninsula and the palm trees swayed surrounding the little hospital where I was working. Performing an appendectomy during the hurricane was an interesting experience.

Because of the storm, the patient population visiting the clinic slowed for many days. The roads were not passable. And patients became sicker because they could not access any health care facilities.

What is not understood by many is the horrible aftermath of hurricanes and tropical storms in the developing world. Life is not back to normal for a long time in Haiti due to the infrastructure damage. Haiti’s dirt mountain roads can’t take much.

During the last few days, Tropical Storm Noel recently caused severe damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Dozens of people have been killed, hundreds are missing, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes.

Haiti faces regular flash flooding during the rainy season. Deforestation heightens the risk of flooding as people and their homes are washed down the mountain sides. Parents need to decide which children to attempt to save from the water.

Crops are destroyed by the flood and stagnant water is a home for breeding mosquitoes that spread malaria and other diseases.

With Tropical Storm Noel, Cite Soleil has also been damaged with dirty water and filthy debris. Soleil sits on the edge of the ocean and water runs downhill from the mountainous Port-au-Prince. The medical clinic in Soleil closes during heavy rains and storms because employees of the clinic need to clean the dirty water out of their homes. Mothers don’t bring their children to the clinic for the same reason.

Makeshift shelters are set up but are seriously under equipped. So time passes and the kids become sicker and many die. Their deaths are never reported.

(Photos by the Associated Press)

To read about the chaos in Soleil due to Noel see this AP article.

Social Teaching Must be Lived

The Catholic Post from the Diocese of Peoria ran an article on October 28, 2007-- Church’s Social Teaching Must be Lived.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria had their first Institute for Catholic Social Ministry last weekend. Father Larry Snyder, executive director of Catholic Charities USA was the keynote speaker for the two-day event.

“Father Snyder set the tone Saturday by outlining several themes of Catholic social teaching, beginning with the fundamental principle that every human person has inherent, God-given dignity.

“If we could just get this one right, all the others would follow,” said Father Snyder. “We have to recognize that within every person we come into contact with is the image and likeness of God,” he added, no matter how scruffy or smelly that person is, rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy.

The problem according to Father Snyder is that “Catholics remain unfamiliar with or unmoved by these teachings.”

Another speaker at the Institute said that the Gospel’s social demands are “very hard teachings we would like to gloss over.” Father Snyder added, “…if you take this seriously, you’re ruined for life.”

Bishop Daniel Jenky is the publisher of the Catholic Post.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The Peoria Journal Star had an article this morning about silence from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Too bad it is true.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mauricio Survives!

Mauricio was operated in the United States and survived a complex heart surgery.

He is with his fantastic host family and doing very well. He is crawling everywhere.

Saving Mauricio will not save Haiti. But we all know that all of Haiti's babies deserve medical care whether it is basic or complex.

If Mauricio can be helped with a serious congenital heart defect, we should be able to help thousands of Haitian babies that are dying from medical problems that are preventable and much less "complex" to treat.

The collective will has to be there to do as much good as can be done.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dogs, Haitians, and Heart Valves

In 1960 in the United States, prosthetic heart valves were being placed in dogs in the mitral position. The dogs woke from surgery, recovered, and barked and ran around. They felt much better with their new heart valve.

The first prosthetic valve was placed in a human being the same year by Dr. Albert Starr.

Heart valve replacement is commonplace in the resource-rich world in 2007.

However, Haitians and most of the people in the resource-poor world, don't get new heart valves when their native valves fail. Technology that has been available in the United States for almost 50 years is still not available in Haiti.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What of Haitian Children?

The Peoria Journal Star published this forum article several days ago. It will not remain on their site for long, so it is copied below.

What of Haitian Children?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Re. Sept. 21 story, "Surgery center very kid friendly":

Contrary to what the article states, not every child is welcome at OSF-Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI).

Haitian Hearts' children who have been operated on at OSF-CHOI in the past, and who presently need additional cardiac surgery, are being refused further care at OSF-CHOI. The Journal Star does not report that these Haitian children are suffering and dying.

OSF-CHOI's International Committee is ignoring Haitian Hearts' children. This is medical negligence and reveals a blatant disregard for Haitian children's lives. This policy by CHOI is anything but "friendly."

Where are the OSF sisters and their mission philosophy, which turns no child away?

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Currently in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thirst for Profit

Heureuse is the young Haitian lady who was operated at OSF several years ago. She needs further surgery and is being refused care at OSF.

One of her two children, Kenley, is pictured to the right. Kenley is two years old and his father has abandoned the family. Heureuse lives with Kenley and his older sister in a slum in Port-au-Prince.

The Catholic Post in Peoria recently published an article--"Pope Contrasts Thirst for Profit, Logic of Sharing".

Pope Benedict spoke about the demands of economic justice during a Sunday blessing September 23.

Benedict said:

"The hunger and ecological emergencies point to growing evidence that the logic of profit, if dominant, increases the disproportion between the rich and the poor and brings a ruinous expoitation of the planet."

"...when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevail, it is possible to correct the route and orient it toward an equitable and sustainable development", he said.

The article also stated that "the Pope emphasized that economic justice was a matter of balance. Making a profit is not in contradiction with justice, he said, but the church teaches that a fair distribution of good takes priority".

When Heureuse dies in the slum for lack of heart surgery, who will take care of Kenley and his sister? Will three people actually die due to "thirst for profit" in Peoria?

I wonder what Pope Benedict's advice to OSF regarding operating Heureuse would be?