I am blessed to have a job I love at Akron Children’s, where I get to split time between hospital medicine and global health.
Through my years of working in Haiti and at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, I’ve had the opportunity to develop friendships with patients and care givers that feels more like helping family than a job. I always look forward to returning to Haiti – my home away from home – and this trip didn’t disappoint.
Many at Children’s had the pleasure of meeting Darensky, a 3 year-old Haitian boy who came to Children’s last year for a life-saving surgery called tracheoplasty to expand his airway. I was fortunate to be a part of Darensky’s care while he was here and I had the honor of reuniting him with his family after 3 months in the U.S.
Darensky’s trip home started at my house with a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call so we could make our 5:30 a.m. flight out of Cleveland. I mistakenly thought I could get Darensky out of bed and into the car seat without waking him so he could get a bit more sleep. Wrong!
The second I walked into my garage, his head popped up from resting on my shoulder and he shouted, “M prale Ayiti! Map we Papi!” (I’m going to Haiti! I’m going to see Dad!) He never closed his eyes again until we were in Haiti.
We met Dr. John Pope, associate director of critical care at Akron Children’s, and David Kuhajda, clinical engineering technician from Children’s, at the airport.
Dr. Pope has been traveling to Haiti since 2010 and has been integral to the improvement of the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Damien. David has trained St. Damien staff at Akron Children’s and traveled to Haiti in 2015 to help them apply this knowledge during a cardiac surgery mission.
Traveling with Darensky was nothing short of entertaining. He was shocked that Dr. Pope could sleep on the plane, turning around to look in disbelief and giggling about it the entire flight.
His excitement couldn’t be contained. He stole the hearts of the airline staff on both flights, receiving all the extra items available for purchase with only a smile. By the time we got to Haiti, his backpack was overflowing with cookies, snacks, headphones, Coca-Cola and more.
Darensky’s father met us at St. Damien and then we went together to reunite Darensky with the rest of his family at his home. Darensky spent the entire car ride happily talking to his father and our driver about his time in Akron.
Darensky lives in a rural area on the outskirts of the capital city, about 40 minutes from St. Damien. His family home that he shares with his mother, father and brother is one room, about the size of a single car garage.
His mother smiled from ear to ear and clapped her hands with excitement as we drove down the dirt road leading to their home.
His 5-year-old brother came running from where he was playing with the neighbors to see his brother. He stood quietly and politely shook our hands, thanking us for bringing his brother home.
Darensky couldn’t wait to open his suitcase full of goodies to show everyone what he had acquired during his time in the U.S.
We’re forever grateful for the honor of reuniting Darensky with his family.