Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Broken Heart in a Cholera Treatment Center


In June of 2011 I was notified by a physician friend of mine, Dr. Jen in Port-au-Prince, that she had a young patient named Luckner with a serious heart problem. She wanted to know if I would examine him and evaluate him as a candidate for heart surgery through Haitian Hearts.

I agreed to do this but I was located in central Haiti about three hours north of Port-au-Prince working in a Cholera Treatment Center at Albert Schweitzer Hospital. I asked Dr. Jen if Luckner could come up to Schweitzer and I would examine him. She said he would make the trip.

At the Cholera Treatment Center we had a tiny admit room. Hundreds of sick patients were coming every day with cholera. We put IV's in the sickest cholera patients in this room and sometimes we would have six or seven very ill patients in shock slumped in their chairs or lying unconscious on cots. Sometimes the patients were even slumped against each other in these close quarters.

One day a young man showed up. Even though I had never seen him I thought he had to be Luckner. He looked too strong and healthy to be a sick with cholera.

The young man was  Luckner and he looked scared. He was scared to be around so many deathly ill appearing cholera patients. I could tell he wanted to leave the Cholera Treatment Center as fast as possible.

I examined him quickly and could hear the loud murmur coming from his leaky aortic valve.

I assured Luckner that we would help him as much as we could and that he could head back to Port-au-Prince. He seemed to be a perfect candidate for repair or replacement of his aortic valve.

So I e mailed Dr. Jen and explained to her that Haitian Hearts would do what we could to get Luckner admitted into a US medical center for heart surgery.

I sent Luckner's history and physical and his echocardiogram to Dr. Bryan Foy a heart surgeon in Illinois who has operated many Haitian Hearts patients in the past. Dr. Foy reviewed the echo and agreed that Luckner needed surgery.

Dr. Foy operates out of a number of medical centers in northern Illinois. Edward Hospital in Naperville is one of them and they accepted Luckner for surgery.

During the past year Dr. Jen and her group of friends in Port-au-Prince were able to obtain a medical visa for Luckner. And they brought him to Naperville about one month ago. He is with a wonderful host family there.

And guess what? Dr. Foy operated on Luckner several hours ago and replaced his leaky aortic valve. (As I post this Luckner is in stable condition in ICU.)

This fortunate 25 year old man just received a new lease on life. My thanks to EVERYONE for all their help with Luckner during the last year.

John A. Carroll, MD

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