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From Haiti and Back Again

You can’t help a whole country but it’s really rewarding to be able to help an individual. I think that he’s going to have a brighter life when he goes home. - Teri Walsh

Life has not been easy for Papida Jean. He lost his entire family in Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010. Left with a young daughter to feed, he was doing odd jobs and farm work when he suffered what would become a life-threatening injury.

Video Transcript

Narrator: Papida Jean severed the artery in his left thigh with a machete while cutting sugar cane in Haiti. He was patched up at a local hospital and sent home, but when infection set in he was miles from any medical facility.

Teri Walsh/ nurse clinician/Vascular Surgery: He says he walked 50-miles on crutches and went to six different hospitals before he could find somebody who could take care of him.

Narrator: Papida needed sophisticated vascular reconstruction –generally done at specialized institutions like Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Narrator: Papida is now on the road to recovery thanks to Vascular Surgeon Richard Powell, MD.

Dr. Richard Powell/ Vascular surgeon, D-H: We took a small vein from his leg and used that to sew a graft in to replace the artery that was damaged.

Narrator: Without surgery he would have faced dire consequences.

Dr. Richard Powell: If it was completely untreated he would have died.

Frantz Thelismond/ interpreter : He's very grateful and thankful to God to allow him to have surgery.

Narrator: As for the language barrier?

Dr. Richard Powell: You have to be careful that what you're saying is actually being translated accurately.

Dr. Richard Powell on phone with interpreter: Hi, this is Dr. Powell. Tell him it will take a few months for the swelling to come down and he has to work on bending the knee; then he should be okay.

Narrator: During his brief stay, there's been a huge outpouring of support from the greater Dartmouth community.

Terri Walsh: There have been people who brought him clothes and shoes, and calling cards, and food so he's had a lot of attention.

Dr. John Butterly/ executive vice president of Medical Affairs, D-H: This is a very caring community without which we couldn't accomplish this.

Narrator: Papida is back on his feet – and walking again.

Dr. Richard Powell: He's not going to be a soccer player, but he's going to be able to do things he needs to be able to do to make a living.

Narrator: Dartmouth-Hitchcock has a proud tradition of providing international humanitarian care to those who can't get it at home.

Dr. John Butterly: We generally partner with any NGO [non-government organization] such as Partners in Health to bring the patient here and provide that care and provide it free of charge.

Dr. Richard Powell: As a surgeon – this is like a privilege to be able to do this.

Teri Walsh: You can't help a whole country but it's really rewarding to be able to help an individual.

Dr. Richard Powell: Papida let me see you bend your knee.

Teri Walsh: It's pretty good. I think that they have probably made a huge difference in the future of his leg.

Papida Jean will have a continued connection with Partners in Health in Haiti as he gets rehabilitation services due to the decreased mobility of his knee. Dr. John Butterly, who oversees D-H Global Health Initiatives, says the international humanitarian care process has been in place at Dartmouth-Hitchcock for five years now with an established budget. "Whether it's Haiti or the Upper Valley," says Dr Butterly, "it's the mission of D-H to provide care to those who can't afford it."