Monday, July 1, 2013


Before surgery in Port au Prince

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.   Matthew 25:40

Lineda is a 10 year old girl who first presented to me at Hôpital Adventiste in Port au Prince Haiti.  She came over on the back of a motorcycle in a rainstorm with her mother from her home in Cité Soleil – one of the most impoverished and dangerous slums in the world.  Nonetheless she was wearing a pretty blue dress and had a beautiful smile and sweet demeanor.  Unfortunately 2 years prior she had experienced a febrile illness that resulted in complete paralysis from the waist down.  Due to the condition she began to develop severe scoliosis and in addition to not having function of her legs she was unable to even sit up.  They came hoping that something could be done.  The situation was seemingly hopeless for all of us.  I explained that neurologic recovery with this condition is not humanly possible.  They understood but pleaded with me to at least straighten the spine so she could at least sit up and go to school.  I explained that an operation of this magnitude cannot be safely performed in Haiti, but perhaps there was another option.

Lineda and her mom at LLUMC
Post operative image
Four weeks ago she arrived at LAX nearly one year after the day I met her.  She came with her mother and Sabina, an aid worker for a planned operation at Loma Linda University Medical Center.  After several committee meetings the leadership at LLUMC decided that the benefits of getting Lineda to sit upright in her wheelchair would justify the financial commitment necessary for the undertaking.  The parents saved up enough money selling soda out of an ice chest in Cité Soleil to buy two airline tickets.  A donor provided living expenses, doctors are gave their time and expertise, and Depuy Spine generously donated the $30,000 worth of implants required for the case.  These efforts were all coordinated to produce a small miracle for this girl. And I must say that without Sabina to kindly advocate and persist in this coordination it would not have happened.

With so many people in need how can the system accommodate?  Maybe we can not do everything for everyone, but when you see Lineda’s million dollar smile one can only think in terms of one patient at a time.  Spanning the globe the Adventist health care system reaches the “least of these” and in this unique situation has again exemplified the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  From the streets of Cité Soleil, Lineda has been taken from a situation of grinding poverty, to one of the best medical centers in the world where the quality of Christ’s healing ministry can be represented in the treatment for her complex condition.

Yesterday here in Port au Prince Lineda came for a post op visit to have her sutures removed.  The whole family came with her to express their gratitude.  Lineda is very happy to be back in Haiti and is especially excited to be with her friends.  Apparently she has been eating triple portions of home cooked Haitian food.   They invited us to their home to enjoy some of this next Sabbath before we depart.
Post op visit with the family at Hôpital  Adventiste 30 Jun