While growing up in Haiti, 7-year-old Adienne Norce contracted an infection in her bone that doctors were unable to treat. Thanks to CBN's Operation Blessing International, she's now on her way to healing.
"This would have never gotten better, and it would have gotten worse," explained Dr. William Owen, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Va.
"Eventually it could have caused her to lose her arm, caused her to get an infection in other parts of her body, and even die from that," he said.
Adienne was near death in a Haitian hospital when Operation Blessing workers were in the country installing water purifications systems and delivering operating and emergency room supplies.
"Evidently it's really, really painful. The agony this child was in, but the courage that she had in all that pain, how well she handled it [was amazing]," Operation Blessing President Bill Horan said.
"We walked into her room and she's just sitting there with this angelic smile on her face. It just absolutely grabbed me and almost knocked me off my feet," Horan continued. "I was astounded at the presence of peace that surrounded that little girl."
Horan vowed to help Adienne, whose condition was deteriorating rapidly. Operation Blessing reached out to CHKD doctors, who agreed to treat Adienne immediately -- free of charge.
Hope in the U.S.
Operation Blessing flew Adienne and her father Pierre to Norfolk for what would be a six-week ordeal. Christian host families took care of the father and daughter, even driving them to doctors visits.
"It's been a gift to all of us who have been involved with Adienne and her dad," said Tim McCarthy, who opened his home to the family. "A gift to be with them to get to know them and be of some little help to them."
CHKD assembled an entire team of doctors to treat Adienne. Neurologist Dr. Donald Lewis, who practices at CHKD, was instrumental in her case.
"Childrens Hospital has a huge heart, not only to take care of the children in Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth of Virginia. But we get the opportunity periodically to help individuals from third-world countries, and this was a unique opportunity for us," he said.
"It was a very compassionate organization that brought her to us, in Operation Blessing. We were proud to be part of this," Lewis said.
The team of doctors first had to isolate the germ that was causing Adienne's infection, then develop an antibiotic treatment. The process, however, was complicated since Adrienne also had sickle cell disease.
After the surgeon successfully removed the infection from the bone, Adienne was in the hospital for a week. When she was released, she received intravenous antibiotics administered by her father. But the treatment requires a series of follow-up visits.
A Chance to Live
Doctors used a special telephone to communicate Adienne's progress with her father in Haiti. The phone has two receivers, and a translator in Florida.
Adienne will be sent home with a nine-month supply of oral antibiotics. After that, she shouldn't need any further treatment.
Her doctors have mixed feelings about her returning to Haiti, where disease is rampant following a devastating earthquake and cholera outbreak.
"It's not ideal," Dr. Owen said. "But this is where she's from, where she lives. I've been to Haiti and seen children with sickle cell disease. A lot of them do relatively well despite the environment."
Although Adienne says the people in American have been very nice, she said she misses her mother and three siblings and is anxious to see them again.