After Louisville doctors performed a life-saving operation on her failing heart, a 16-year-old girl is set to return to her native Haiti. Stephanie Privert, left, came to Kentucky after she became ill following the deadly 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated the country, The Courier-Journal‘s Chris Kenning reports. (C-J photo by Pam Spaulding)
“We hate to see that she’s obliged to return to a tough situation, but we can’t keep her here forever,” said Dr. Erle Austin, the lead heart surgeon during Privert’s operation. “She’s so much better than when she arrived.”
Privert was watching her mother cook soup when the earthquake struck. Her family was able to escape, but her home near Port-au-Prince was destroyed. Privert’s health quickly deteriorated and she was brought to a clinic run by American doctors from Medical Teams International. Deciding she could not be treated in hospitals in Haiti or neighboring Dominican Republic, the doctors got in touch with non-profit group Healing the Children, which has a chapter in Louisville. Its members helped her fly to Kentucky. She arrived weighing just 70 pounds.
Doctors determined she had a leaking heart valve, which was causing severe pulmonary hypertension and lung problems, Kenning reports. In August, doctors at Kosair Children’s Hospital decided to repair the valve, rather than replace it with a mechanical one, which would require expensive anti-rejection drugs, or a pig valve that would wear out more quickly.
Since, she has been recovering, staying with host families, learning English and attending school. The Haitian Christian Outreach has raised money needed to start rebuilding Privert’s family home in Haiti. (Read more)