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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Haitian teen with cancer flown to city for treatment

Monday, February 1st, 2010

By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jean Kenson, 16, the son of a Baptist minister, was carried on board seconds before the plane departed from Port-au-Prince. He was in Allegheny General Hospital's Suburban Campus in Bellevue on Sunday, where doctors hoped to save his leg and, if not that, his life.

His father is a minister on an island village and Jean was in Port-au-Prince with his uncle seeking medical help when the quake struck.

"The first thing I want is to go to the hospital and be treated," said Jean, stretched across three seats on a jet chartered by a Sewickley businessman who jetted to Port-au-Prince Saturday to deliver several tons of medical supplies to field hospitals there.

The team had hoped to bring back a large group of orphans, but their plane, which is painted with the distinctive emblem of Miami Air, did not have clearance to land in Miami, the orphans' destination. They were sent later on a military C-130.

In a miracle of man-over-bureaucracy, the Pittsburgh group received the go-ahead to bring home a cancer-stricken teen who loves soccer, cheers the Brazilian team, and has never seen snow.

Howls of joy greeted Jean as a team carted him down the aisle of the charter jet. Seconds earlier, U.S. immigration authorities had given the go-ahead for the teen to enter the United States, a bureaucratic miracle amid a near total ban on transporting Haitian immigrants without family already here.

The boy was diagnosed last week with bone cancer in his left leg. Swollen and deformed, the limb appears to be the largest part of the spindly youth's body. He had never been to a hospital. He saw private doctors and relied on them and prayer in his search for a cure.

His uncle, Ernst Calixt, brought him to a field hospital outside the Port-au-Prince airport where he was examined by Mark Sangimino, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Allegheny General Hospital.

"He needs surgery and chemotherapy. Without it he would be dead in six months," said Dr. Sangimino. He discovered the boy while working at the field hospital.

 To read more, visit the Post-Gazette website.

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