Haitian boy injured in quake receives care in Wilmington

January 20, 2010

WILMINGTON – A 12-year-old Haitian boy is recovering from surgery donated by physicians at New Hanover Regional Medical Center after doctors, missionaries and residents of Wilmington worked to get the family to the U.S. for badly needed medical care.

“I was walking through the streets trying to find a hospital for my son, and you could see all the corpses, dead bodies, across the street. You could not count them.”

That was the experience Octavius Delfils, a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, recounted while waiting for his son to go into surgery at New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Cape Fear Hospital. His son, Carlens Delfils had his hand crushed when he tried to protect his younger sister from their house, which was falling around them during the earthquake that struck on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Carlens suffered nerve and tendon damage and several broken bones.

When Octavius and his family made it out of their house and into the street after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit their hometown, he realized the extent of his son’s injuries.

“We walked from hospital to hospital for three or four hours trying to find one that could help, but they were all down.”

Outside one of those hospitals, the family found Charles Amicy, a pastor for the Presbyterian Mission in Haiti. Octavius, who is a pastor for one of the churches in Amicy’s mission, told Amicy what happened to his son. Amicy drove the family to Messailler, a small town about 20 miles outside Port-au-Prince. There, Carlens was cared for by medical missionaries from Savannah, Ga., who were able to bandage his arm and give him antibiotics. But without more specialized care, the missionaries were concerned that infection would set into the wound and his hand would have to be amputated.

Amicy made contact with Paul Snyder—a Wilmington resident who is a member of the Presbyterian Mission in Haiti and Chief Executive Officer of Glen Meade Center for Women’s Health. When Snyder heard about the Delfils family’s plight, he reached out to Dr. Bill Sutton and his wife Amy. Dr. Sutton, an orthopaedic surgeon with Wilmington Orthopaedic Group, had expressed an interest in helping out in the Haitian relief efforts in whatever way he could.

So Snyder and Sutton arranged for Octavius, Carlens and Carlens’ sister, Farrah, to fly out of the Dominican Republic to the United States, where Dr. Sutton and his colleague, Dr. Craig Rineer, would perform surgery.

The procedure lasted approximately four hours and doctors say Carlens is doing very well. The coming weeks will involve several follow-up appointments and rehabilita- tion therapy for Carlens’ hand. But Octavius is just happy to have found care for his son.

"Thank you for everything you have done for us. You share your love with us and we are very grateful. We don’t have words to thank you—to thank everybody who helped us here in Wilmington, North Carolina.”

New Hanover Regional Medical Center is the leading provider of quality and accessible health care in Southeastern North Carolina, delivering care to all in need, without the support of taxpayer dollars. The medical center takes seriously its responsibility as an economic engine for the community, creating more than 4,500 jobs directly and another 3,000 jobs indirectly.