Our own Respiratory Therapist Ali Amanat shares his Haiti experience.

Respiratory Therapist Ali ManatShortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti two and a half years ago, a non-profit started by two University of Miami doctors opened of the only critical care hospitals in the country.  I recently traveled to Port-au-Prince to get a first-hand look at how this tiny hospital is helping to provide needed care and to volunteer my time as a respiratory therapist for six weeks.

The 45 bed, Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare treats more than 180,000 people annually and operates the country’s only critical care and trauma hospital, Neonatal ICU, Pediatrics ICU, the nation’s most advanced prosthetics facility and the island’s only high-resolution CT scanner.

On my first day, I met a boy named John.  John is one of the multitudes of children in Haiti with Hydrocephalus.  The high rate of malnutrition and dearth of medical treatment is the major cause for this devastating disease; it punishes the child and the parents’ already meager finances.  “The leading cause of death an hour away from South Florida is dirty water and malnutrition for children.  And there’s so much difference we can make,†explains Dr. Barth Greene, one of the two physicians behind the hospital.  He is a surgeon for spinal cord injuries and one of the founders of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis but his passion is Haiti.

Next to John was lying the beautiful 7-year old Eveline; her heart was failing.  She was on a ventilator and desperately needed heart surgery that doctors in Haiti couldn’t do.  Project Medishare volunteers were trying to get her passport and find a hospital in the United States to perform the surgery.  Sadly, Eveline didn’t make it through the night.  But there are success stories.  Like that of little Neissa who was found abandoned in a shoe box.  She was so malnourished that nary a whisper could be heard while she cried.  She had arrived a few days before my arrival; she spent the next six weeks living in the arms of the compassionate volunteers, beating pneumonia, gaining weight and learning to smile.  She was placed with a foster family just before I left.

I went to Haiti to help.  Surrounded by this much passion and compassion, Haiti helped me see the power of love.