Meet Olson – receiving life saving treatment at St. Damien

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Olson*, is four-old boy from Jacmel, a town located in two hours away from Port-au-Prince. His mother’s name is Rolande and his father is Maudelaire and they have three other children. Despite the challenges, he has had to face at such a young age, Oson is still a curious, helpful and sweet little boy to everyone he meets. His best friend is cousin his Priscille, whom he loves to play with at home.

In August 2014, Olson had hernia surgery at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. In March 2015, his mom discovered he was suffering from cancer. The disease started with stomachaches and his mom discovered that there was a hard lump on his belly. His mother started to give him some common medicine for gas, but he did not improve, so they went to see a private doctor in their neighborhood in Jacmel. The doctor requested a scan and then referred them to St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.

When Olson arrived at St. Damien, he was quickly examined by the doctors and nurses and was admitted to the hospital at “Sal mango” Oncology ward. He has blood tests, urine, X-Ray and two more scans and biopsy procedure. The result showed that Karl had Rhabdomyosarcoma abdominal. Because they family lives too far away from the hospital and because of the financial circumstances, a parent is obligated to sleep at the hospital with the child. This of course can be a strain on the family if the other parent has to work.

Olson is currently started his treatment of chemotherapy at St. Damien in the cancer ward. At first he had some complication with the chemotherapy, such as not being able to talk, swelling, fever and vomiting. His health is getting better since he’s been taking the medicine. After chemotherapy he will have to travel to the Dominican Republic in the coming month to continue the radiation treatment, however beforehand he will have to get another scan to see if the chemotherapy reduced the tumor.

According to Maulaire, “I want to thank the initiative of this hospital because when my private doctor referred my child to Port-au-Prince at St. Damien Hospital, I was already start thinking if there really is somewhere that they treat cancer in Haiti and I felt disparate as I don’t have money to travel to a foreign country. I really believe that without this hospital, without St. Damien, my child would already have died.”

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Fighting for Life

Mothers – loving, tired, stressed, weary, worried, desperate.
The struggles of Haiti etched eternally on their faces.
Loving eyes struggle to keep watch, watch the IV, watch the oxygen, watch the temperature.
Days and nights of watching and the eyes fight to stay open.
Loving arms balancing restless sick children.
Road weary feet swollen and hot from days in the hospital.
Days sitting on blue chairs.
Nights sitting on blue chairs.
With occasional respite found on a sheet on the hard tiles.
Tiny babies – 500 lbs, 1 kilo, less than 500 lbs.
Big kids swollen.
A boy shoved a bead up his nose.
A boy shoved a pea in his ear.
Big babies.
Small babies.
Fighting for each breath, oxygen, IV, nurses desperately trying to find tiny veins.
All veins seem to stay at home.
Valiant nurses keep trying.
Dehydrated bodies.
Busy, busy nurses.
Fighting with death daily.
Fighting for life.
And still the patients come.
From all over the country.
Looking for life.
No more room.
Make room.
How to refuse.
How to say yes.
Young mothers – kids themselves.
Young fathers – hurtled into the realities of parenthood.
Pneumonia the biggest killer of kids under 5 in Haiti.
Racing hearts, gurgling lungs.
Scared parents.
Small kid – huge tummy
Tiny premie – went to God.
Beautiful Chloe, trying to breathe.
Eyes fixed on her praying crying aunt as if to say, “why me? I am just a tiny baby. Why is so hard for me to breathe”.
Can she know she has a heart problem and she has not long left.
Her poor Mam.
Doctors trying to find space.
Meeting after meeting, trying to find ways to find money to keep this hospital open.
We can’t afford to keep it open.
We can’t afford to close it.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Life and death – always dancing together.
Dancing around the beds.
Fighting around the beds.
It should be so easy for life to win.
Suffering is there with them.
Yes indeed suffering and more suffering.
Mothers and nurses and doctors and fathers joined together, united together.
An eternal circle, comings and goings.
Different faces.
The same suffering.
The same fight for life.
Every year I get an insight into the realities of life here as Olsen takes me inside our hospital emergency room.
St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.
The ONLY pediatric hospital in Haiti.
Don’t read this and feel sad.
Read this and help us in our fight for life.


Contributed by Gena Heraty, NPH Haiti Special Needs Director
Photo credit: Giles Ashford

Cancer Care at St. Damien


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St. Damien performs operations on women suffering from cervical cancer, such as Nanotte Pierre who went there for treatment after discovering she had cancer. Surgery is prohibitively expensive in Haiti, chemotherapy drugs are limited, and there isn’t a radiation center in the country. One typical treatment option is group prayer. REBECCA ARNOLD/NOS PETITS FRERES ET SOEURS HAITI

For full story visit:

Go Inside St. Damien Children’s Hospital with Beyoncé

by Fusion and Danielle Wiener-Bronner | June 9, 2015 9:04 AM

More than five years after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, the nation’s children remain at risk. According to The World Bank, the under-5 mortality rate was especially high at 174 per 1,000 live births in 2010 — the year of the earthquake. But since then, the number has been consistently, if slowly, dropping to pre-earthquake lows. In 2011, the number fell to 77 and as of 2013, the latest year on record, the rate is 73 per 1,000 live births.

To learn more about how the country has fared since the disaster, Beyoncé decided to take a humanitarian trip to Haiti in May. While there, the world-famous singer, songwriter and actor went to one hospital working to suppress child mortality rates — St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre, Haiti. Founded by Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), the hospital was initially supposed to serve as a home for children with no families. But the institution changed its mission. Per the hospital website: “… the large amount of children dying from treatable illnesses showed a desperate need for a hospital that could treat chronic and other debilitating pediatric illnesses.”

Watch the ABC News/Fusion exclusive video above, provided by Parkwood Entertainment, to see what Beyoncé witnessed in Haiti.

The hospital’s medical director, Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, said in a video showcasing Beyonce’s visit that pneumonia, a treatable infectious disease, is one of the top killers of children in Haiti. Says Gautier of the disease, “Even though it is easily treated, if parents don’t have access because of money for transportation, because of money to pay for antibiotics, and did not show up early, then the children can die.”

Every day, said Gautier, 150 children show up for treatment at the hospital doors. But Gautier says St. Damien Pediatric Hospital doesn’t have the capacity to treat everyone: “It’s heartbreaking sometimes to send children away, but many times we have no choice.”

You can help support St. Damien by purchasing a BeyGOOD Haiti t-shirt. All proceeds will go to helping the hospital, which has been forced to close a wing for lack of funding.

Mother’s Day is here!


On this day, we honor the mothers that have helped to nurture, raise, care for us in our lives.

Sometimes mothers need a little help. This is the case for many of the mothers who bring their sick and often critically ill children to the NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti.

With your support St. Damien is able to provide over 80,000 medical services annually to children and expecting mothers. Many of these children receive care and treatment for malnutrition, cancer, cholera, malaria, congential heart diseases, and more.

It is only through your generous support that we are able to save the lives of these innocent Haitian children and help their mothers who desperately seek the services we provide to their sons and daughters.

In honor of love for all mothers, please consider making a gift today to help us continue to provide these critical services to children in need.

Photo credit: Giles Ashford