Changing Juan's World

From time to time Helen Salan, Healing the Children’s executive director, sends the
HTC board members a quick report about an interesting case.  Here’s an example.

Monday, November 25

I thought I would let you know what we’ve been up to this past week.

On Friday, November 15, I got a call from our liaison in the Dominican Republic,
Dr. Luis Cuello.  He had a two-week-old baby with transposition of the great arteries, a very
serious congenital heart defect.  Could we help?

I knew that if we were going to help this baby we had to get U of M on board, but I
also knew from a recent conversation with Dr. Ohye that their budget for charity cases was
expended.  But I had Dr. Cuello fax me some medical information, and I faxed it on to
Dr. Ohye with a plea.

On Monday I opened my e-mail and to my surprise there was a message from
Dr. Ohye asking how soon we could get baby Juan here.  Wow!  Prayers answered!








The pilot called from Wilmington, NC, where they had stopped to refuel and clear customs.  He was confused as to the location of Willow Run Airport and was going to fly into Detroit Metro – it looked so close on the map.  Yikes – the ambulance was set to meet them at Willow Run.  We redirected them to Ann Arbor Municipal Airport and diverted the ambulance also.  Many calls back and forth and all around.

They finally arrived at the hospital at about 8:00 pm – three doctors and a six-pound baby who at that point was still stable.

It turns out that one reason U of M wanted the baby there earlier was that all the big docs were being feted at the major fundraiser,  (Save a Heart Benefit) for the peds heart program at the Michigan League that night.  Wouldn’t you know!  The on-call doc was available and was the “designated doctor” – no adult beverages for him.

We put the three Dominican docs up at the Med Inn, which is a hotel right at the hospital. 
They were relieved and exhausted.  Host dad Bill Carr took them to the airport Saturday morning with
a short stop at K-Mart on the way, where they loaded up with Michigan athletic gear.

Surgery will be on Wednesday.  Say a prayer for Juan, please.

Many thanks to Dr. Richard Ohye, Ann Arbor coordinator Judy Robards, and host
family Bill and Dana Carr for stepping up to the plate. 

And speaking of that…the “rich man” is a (nameless and not Sammy Sosa)
Dominican baseball player who must remember what it’s like to be poor.

Dr. Ohye’s team performed Juan’s surgery on Wednesday, November 27. 
It was a success, and Juan went home to the Dominican Republic in January.


Who in the world would want to host a very sick baby right at holiday time?  Well, never fear, our wonderful host families are just that.  Family found.

How would we get the baby here?  This baby’s father is a poor farmer in LaVega.  Dr. Cuello wanted to send Juan via air ambulance, as a commercial flight could be too tough on him.  There was a “rich man” who knew both the father and Dr. Cuello…he offered to pay for the plane.  Another wow!

Got the visa!

Is baby Juan stable enough to fly?  Yes, if we can do it soon.

The flight was set for early Friday morning.  U of M wanted him there early in the afternoon.  But bad weather in the Dominican Republic caused a delay, and takeoff wasn’t until l:00 pm.

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