by Christian L. Gilbert, M.D. F.A.C.S.
Associate Medical Director
International Children's Heart Foundation
Olken Foncime, 2010
My wife and I were invited to attend a gathering sponsored by Hope through Healing Hands at Senator William Frist's home in Nashville. Towards the end of the evening I was approached about a child in Haiti, Olken Foncime, who was very sick with a heart defect. This was the end of September 2009 and in early October I was planning to leave for Dominican Republic for a two week mission and I offered I would be glad to help this child, however he would need to come to Santiago to be evaluated.
After a few emails and several back and forth conversations with Dr. Dorian, who by the way is the man of God who first identified this child, it was arranged for the boy to come to Santiago.
When he arrived we learned he had Tetralogy of Fallot and was profoundly cyanotic(blue) and would need some blood exchanges and a shunt procedure. All that went according to plan and he was released from the hospital in several days, much improved, see pictures below. Somehow I knew he would mean so much more than one child getting surgery and going home. His gentle spirit and captivating smile were contagious and all who met him instantly fell in love with him.
When tragedy struck on January 10, 2010 everyone was fearful he might have been injured or killed. Frantic email were sent out and after several anxious days we found out he was OK but the orphanage was severely damaged. Dr. Dorian traveled to Haiti after the earthquake to help with emergency relief and found him there and made arrangements for him to return to the states on a medical visa for his corrective procedure.
Out of all this an idea came forth, which I believe is from the Holy Spirit, that we needed to develop a program for Haitian children with heart defects. So here we are gathering ideas and looking for support for this project: To provide a place for 400 children over a period of five years and hopefully find a more permanent location for a cardiac institute in Haiti to care for these children closer to home.
Thankfully, we have on the island a place where children can receive advanced cardiac care in Santiago DR at Hospital Infantil Arturo Grullon. In fact, the hospital is about to break ground on a new pediatric cardiac institute specifically for children with heart disease. This will allow for the more immediate need to be met, however a more lasting solution needs to be developed. This will take more hard work and prayer and with His direction I believe we can find an answer.
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