Saturday, April 21, 2007

First OI Child Passes Away; Organization In Mourning

The following was released to the boards and staffs of OI Worldwide April 18 by Jim Luce, Founder & Director of OI Worldwide, and Donald W. Hoskins, M.D., President, OI America:

We are very sorry to have to report the death of our precious child, Love, age eight, living at OI Haiti in the City of Gonaïves. Love passed away unexpectedly at 2:45 pm on Saturday, April 14, 2007, in the presence of our housemother and volunteer nurse. Funeral arrangements are being made as we write.

Both Jacques Africot, OI Worldwide Officer at OI Haiti, and Serard Gasius, OI Haiti Director, report Love had a normal day in school on Friday followed by afternoon playtime with our other children and his housemother. Love and the children shared dinner together then Love went to bed. Love remained in bed the next morning, limp and unresponsive. The staff immediately called the director and board members, rushing Love to the hospital emergency room where care was both poor and insufficient.

OI America will assume financial responsibility for the funeral, which our children will attend. Members of our Board who had traveled to Haiti and knew Love have written homilies, translated into Creole, which will be read at the funeral. Our staff and volunteers in Gonaïves are working closely with the children to ease them through this emotional crisis.

After extensive questioning and remote evaluation by medical professionals on our Board, we can still only speculate that the cause of death may have been a ruptured brain aneurysm, an unknown cardiac disease, or an aspiration with tracheal blockage. Injury, infectious disease, and food poisoning have been ruled out as best we can. Due to lack of ability by local officials to perform an autopsy, this is the most we can ever know.

The lack of medical treatment received by Love at the E.R. speaks to the desperate needs for better medical facilities in Haiti. At this point we do not yet have the money to build a health clinic, but we hope to. Even then, our plans do not include emergency medical care. Long term we would like to address that need as well. For now, we can only focus on the living – and grieving – siblings whom Love has left behind.

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