Haitian boy headed back after surgery in Charlotte

Watching him play Monday afternoon at a friend's home in South Charlotte, you'd never guess that 3-year-old Jacky Delva had two skull surgeries less than two months ago.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Watching him play Monday afternoon at a friend's home in South Charlotte, you'd never guess that 3-year-old Jacky Delva had two skull surgeries less than two months ago.

The Haitian child is happy, active, and healthy, roughhousing in ways he wasn't allowed to in the months after the earthquake while his fragile head was exposed.

He was in his house when the earthquake struck, Dr. Will Conner explained. He was under the rubble for four hours.

Little Jacky was rescued by French crews, but parts of his skull were crushed.

In the chaotic hours after the earthquake, he got stitches, but little else. When he eventually reached Navy doctors on the U.S.S. Comfort, parts of his skull were removed to prevent infection.

Jacky and his young mom Chella were then flown to Sacre-Coeur Hospital in the northern Haitian town of Milot. It was there they met Dr. Will Conner, his wife Natalie, and a team of medical professionals who'd come from North Carolina to volunteer.

Without that protective skull, a lot of things could have gone badly. He could have had brain damage. He could have sustained a blow and died, Natalie Conner explained. A lot of people did a really great job of working together to keep him safe, and to keep him alive.

Once the North Carolina team was home, they began working to arrange a pro-bono surgery for Jacky.

At the end of May, after some ups and downs and paperwork snafus, they finally got Jacky and Chella to Charlotte.

Within days he was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital. He underwent two surgeries, Dr. Conner said.

Their care and their housing was taken care of by the friends they made in Haiti, but on this six-month anniversary of the disaster, the organization that sponsored the Delva family is prepared to send them back.

It's a tough call. It's a very tough call, Natalie Conner said.

Dr. Conner says Jacky is healthy enough to live a normal life, but the country where they'd live is not yet healed.

Their home is rubble.

Chella's husband, Jacky's dad, died in the quake, and her parents were killed as well.

Chella is in touch with an uncle, but like 1.5 million others, he's living in a tent. Natalie says when she asked Chella what she'd like to take with her from the U.S., she asked for a tent as well.

There are little pockets of progress, but for the most part, people are still homeless, he said.

Jacky and Chella are due to fly out on Friday, and the Conners and the Delva's other friends here are trying to arrange some kind of housing with their contacts in Haiti.

The really tricky part is getting them set up in a place that feels comfortable to them, that is safe, and helping them to piece their lives back, Natalie Conner said.

Natalie and Will intend to go back.

There is no doubt that we'll see each other again, she said.


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