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The young life of Bedica Ermilus will be celebrated with a memorial service Saturday, as those whose hearts she stole during her life-saving trip from her native Haiti to Iowa City in March mourn the infant who died just days after returning home, likely from disease common in Haiti.
“I don’t think we’ll ever really know how she died,” says Ginny Ryan, an obstetrician/gynecologist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who with her husband, UI Hospitals and Clinics emergency physician Chris Buresh, worked to bring Bedica to Iowa City for emergency surgery.
“She really was a little local celebrity, everyone has asked about her. We want to give them an opportunity to remember her.”
—Ginny Ryan, M.D.
She 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. “The health care workers working with her there just don’t know.”
Bedica recovered well from surgery. Ryan returned Bedica to her parents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on May 13, and saw her again when the group had to go to government offices on May 14. Bedica then became ill with a fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. She died on May 17.
“It was very quick, which makes it all the more unbelievable and heartbreaking and frustrating,” Ryan says.
Bedica was brought to UI Children’s Hospital in March for surgery to repair anal atresia, a condition that blocked her ability to move her bowels. Though her outlook was bleak in Haiti, where medical care isn’t as advanced, the surgery is fairly routine in the United States. About one in every 3,000 babies is born with the condition.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 320 E. College St., in Iowa City.
“She really was a little local celebrity, everyone has asked about her,” Ryan says. “We want to give them an opportunity to remember her.”
To read about Bedica’s journey to Iowa City, visit now.uiowa.edu/2012/04/little-girl-big-journey.