Wednesday, July 21, 2010



This is Vanessa.

Vanessa is 12 years old.

She is from Barradare which is light years from here.

I examined her for the first time today in the clinic in Les Cayes.

Her mother said that for several years Vanessa has been quite short of breath especially "walking up the mountain". And with further questioning mom added "yes Vanessa's left knee DID swell up" and hurt like mad several years ago.

Vanessa had the ubiquitous loud murmur over her mitral valve that always makes my heart sink.

She has the typical history and physical findings of rheumatic fever that we find in so many children in Haiti. Poverty and crowded conditions make this suffering possible.

I told her mother that Vanessa needs heart surgery in the United States and Haitian Hearts gave mom the money to have a formal echocardiogram done in Port-au-Prince.

I also told Vanessa's mother that it is difficult to find medical centers to accept Haitian kids for heart surgery but that we would try.

Mom started to cry, but recovered quickly as poor Haitian women are prone to do.
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