Twenty-eight-year-old Suy Bazelais was found buried in the crumbled ruins of a five-story building in Haiti. He had suffered a severe spinal cord injuryand he lay underneath a dead woman waiting to be rescued, according to a Chicago Tribunearticle. Bazelais received very little treatment for his injury due to the chaotic aftermath of the January 12 earthquakes.
Bazelais’ family found him in a public square and moved him to a hospital camp. In the camp, he met orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Ivankovich who had traveled to Haiti to deliver medical supplies and treat fractured bones. In the midst of makeshift hospital tents, the doctor found another patient in need of serious medical treatment.
The Tribune reported that Dr. Ivankovich had been in Haiti for just a day when ‘Dr. Colleen O’Connell, a rehabilitation specialist with Handicap International, brought Bazelais and Delisca to his attention. Ivankovich was amazed that the two patients had survived so long with such severe injuries.’ The other quake survivor is Josette Delisca, 52, who endured a cervical spine injury after her home collapsed upon her.
Ivankovich immediately recognized a powerful will to survive in Delisca and Bazelais that spurred him to take on the mission of getting them to a fully equipped hospital in America. The surgeon proceeded to negotiate with the Department of Homeland Security, the Military, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to get the patients – who had no passports – across the border and into the care of physicians at Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital.
U.S. officials issued a humanitarian waiver to allow the pair to enter the country and receive medical treatment. The road to Chicago was arduous. From the hospital tents in Haiti, the two spinal cord injury victims had to lay down in a pickup truck while traveling three miles per hour on unmaintained roads to the airport, where they received a pro-bono flight from AirMed, an Atlanta-based medical airline, the Tribune reported.
After receiving treatment and surgery, the pair will likely be transferred to a rehabilitation center in Chicago for more therapy. Both patients hope to eventually return to their families in Haiti. Ivankovich plans to return to Haiti to assist in the rebuilding process, which is expected to take years.
Trice, Dawn Turner. (January 29, 2010) ‘Chicago surgeon helps 2 Haitian quake survivors defy the odds.’ Retrieved on February 2, 2010 from the Chicago Tribune Web site:http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-met-trice-haiti-0129-20100128column,0,5…