Little girl, big journey

Little girl, big journey

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Haitian infant receives vital care at UI Hospitals and Clinics
Dr. Chris Buresh holds Bedica Ermilus in his homeDr. Chris Buresh holds Bedica Ermilus in his home before heading off to work. Ermilus is staying with the Buresh family in Iowa City while she recovers from life-saving surgery. Photos by Tim Schoon.

(Editor's note: Bedica Ermilus died May 17, just days after returning home to Haiti, likely from disease common in that nation. Ginny Ryan, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said cholera, a disease that is endemic in Haiti, may be the cause of the infant’s death, but there’s been no real diagnosis. A memorial for Bedica has been planned in Iowa City; read more here.)

Little Bedica Ermilus may never know of all of the people who came together and worked hard to bring her to University of Iowa Children’s Hospital for a surgery that would save her life but it’s a sure bet they’ll never forget her.

The tiny four-month-old girl was born in December 2011 with anal atresia, a condition that blocked her ability to move her bowels. Though she could release a small amount of waste, the anal opening wasn’t in its proper place and the waste released wasn’t enough to let her survive for long. What’s worse, the medical team in Haiti lacked the proper surgical equipment and follow-up care, and the rate of recovery there was near zero.

So Bedica’s mother, Carole Charles, made a bold plea for help—a plea that set in motion a plan involving Iowa state and federal legislators, national news media, the Clinton/Bush Fund, and doctors and residents in Illinois and Iowa, all working to get the infant the surgery and care she needed.

Contacts

Molly Rossiter, UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 319-356-7127

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