You did it again. You worked another miracle.
In America, we take much for granted about our healthcare. A simple test like a Pap Smear is never given a second thought. This test involves taking some cells from the cervix and analyzing them for malignancy. It is universally available to us. In Haiti, this simple test can make the difference between life and death for thousands upon thousands of women.
Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death for Haitian women and the importance of the Pap Smear is well known to them. However, it is not widely available to women because of the lack of Pathologists, the experts who interpret the test, and the shortage of laboratories to prepare it.
In Haiti, when Pap Smears were available, they would be collected and shipped to Port au Prince where they would be analyzed. It would take 3 to 6 months for them to be returned to where they were taken. What would then follow was a hit or miss system of notification with little confidence that the proper results would ever be communicated to the patient. This simply added to the anxiety and apprehension of the women who knew only too well the fate of those affected with the disease.
Because of your generous support, we have been able to acquire the services of Dr. Rene Santos, a Cuban born Pathologist and the only specialist of his kind in all of Northern Haiti — a region with a population of more than 2 million people. After months of preparation which involved obtaining all of the chemicals and material to produce the Pap Smears and shipping them to Milot, Dr. Santos was ready to start.
On Monday, October 19, the Cytopathology Laboratory at Hôpital Sacré Coeur opened. Haitian women scored a life-changing victory.
Thirty-seven Pap Smears were collected that day. They were prepared and stained. On Wednesday, October 21, all 37 Pap Smears had been read by Dr. Santos and the reports printed out. On Thursday, October 22nd, all 37 patients were notified of their results via a system devised by the clinical staff at Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The following day some of those with abnormal reports had been seen, biopsied and were awaiting final disposition of their cases.
One woman was unable to comprehend how such an important test, which had taken her two years to have performed, could have the results ready in only 3 days.
Word of this happening spread so quickly through the town, that on Friday, we were besieged by hordes of women frantic to have the test done before our team left for home on Saturday. It took a great deal of explaining for them to understand that this was not just going to be available when Americans were there to do it, but is going to be the new routine, normal way of doing and reporting the test results to them through the hospital staff. The future is now.
This is a really significant step for the women of Haiti, not only for the lives which will be saved, but for the relief of the anxiety and mental anguish that these women endure in fear of this dread disease.
This was brought home to us by the pinched, anxious face of one of those notified that her result was abnormal. She happened to be a nurse on our hospital staff and she raced to the door of the Operating Room where we were working with fearful questions about her fate. The fact that we were able to answer her questions, examine her and perform a biopsy that same day is almost unbelievable to those who know from past experience what a time consuming ordeal this usually is for the patient.
Our next step is to try to raise $80 – $100,000 to equip the laboratory thus enabling the hospital staff to be able to do tissue analysis so that those specimens no longer have to be shipped to the United States. This will be an equally great contribution to the people we serve.
I cannot overemphasize to you how extraordinary an accomplishment this is for this poverty stricken, disease burdened portion of the world. These improvements are far beyond anything we could ever imagine happening. This program continues a tradition that YOUR financial support has made possible.
Through YOUR generosity, Hôpital Sacré Coeur has become the major force in the improvement of the healthcare in Northern Haiti. Without this partnership, many women would perish in lieu of these early detection measures.
It is all due to the generosity and kind heartedness of YOU, our supporters and contributors.
God bless you all!
|With my deepest gratitude,
David G. Butler, M.D.
P.S. The doors never close on Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The patients continue to come in search of quality healthcare. Those doors stay open only with your generous support. Send your tax deductible donation by Dec. 31st. Remember: 100% of your donation goes directly to patient care programs.