Friday, April 11, 2008
April 10, 2008
Loving gift given anonymously
Unidentified donor pays for girl's surgery
BY JOHN A. TORRES
By all accounts, 2-year-old Dieunika San Vil shouldn't have survived this long.
Sick children in Haiti don't stand much of a chance in a country where one out of 10 children dies before the age of five and where children die regularly of diarrhea. Dieunika (pronounced ja-NEEK-A) was born without a properly formed anus.
The only thing medical facilities in Haiti could do was to perform a colostomy, leaving the little girl with an opening on her abdomen and no hope for a normal life.
But thanks to a missionary who was moved by her story, Brevard Health Alliance, Air Mobile Ministries, an anonymous donor and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, the little girl arrived in Brevard County last week and is scheduled for life-saving surgery later today.
An anonymous donor is paying the $117,000 bill for the surgery, hospital spokeswoman Robin Kraich said.
Dieunika will recuperate in the home of Titusville missionary and founder of the nonprofit Air Mobile Ministries, Joe Hurston, and his family. Hurston lived in Haiti for more than 20 years and continues to make regular trips to the impoverished island delivering water purifiers.
"The remarkable thing is that this little one has survived at all," Hurston said. "How she has survived we don't even understand, but we knew we had to be involved. This is a very special child."
Through a missionary contact in Haiti, the Hurston family should be able to get word to the baby's mother who anxiously awaits her daughter's return.
Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. According to UNICEF, the country has the highest rate of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the western world.
Violence and lawlessness have been a problem in Haiti, especially since 2004 when President Jean Paul Aristide fled into exile. And just this week riots broke out in the capital, Port-Au –Prince, as people rebelled against rising rice prices.
The United Nations peacekeeping force fired rubber bullets at the crowd.
Hurston's wife, Cindy, a registered nurse, serves as Dieunika's caretaker, playmate, friend and surrogate mother for the time being.
"We are blessed to be able to take care of her," she said, adding that she had thought her days of helping raise babies were over. Her youngest is 10.
"It all came back to me and my kids are great with her. It was never a question of whether we should do this. She needed a family and we were there."