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Five Haitians escape political unrest for life-saving heart surgeries in North Texas

Five patients from Haiti recovering after receiving free heart surgeries in North Texas
Five patients from Haiti recovering after receiving free heart surgeries in North Texas 02:15

PLANO — Five patients from Haiti are recovering after receiving free heart surgeries in North Texas. The group risked their lives and left the conflict in their home country for the care they needed.

Those patients at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Plano traveled almost 2,000 miles to escape the political unrest in Haiti for life-saving heart surgeries.

"We don't have cardiac surgeons," translator Steeve Andre said.

Surgeons repaired 31-year-old Jean Elio Desgrange's heart.

"Before the surgery, his situation was very critical," Andre said.

Baylor Scott & White doctors said blood was leaking from his heart. Desgrange, speaking through interpreter Steeve Andre, said the condition severely impacted his life.

"To go to his daily activities, it was like, 'Oh, I cannot do this because if I do, anything can happen,'" Andre translated.

Doctors repaired 27-year-old Alexandra Michaud's mitral valve, one of four valves in the heart that keep blood flowing in the right direction. The mother of a three-year-old boy had issues functioning in her daily life and working.

"She thinks if she didn't come here for the surgery, she would have died," Andre said.

Dr. David Moore said the hospital partners with the non-profit organization Haiti Cardiac Alliance and has performed surgeries on 40 Haitians since 2016.

"Patients come very vulnerable," Moore said. "Many of them are already advanced towards heart failure. Without surgical intervention, many of them would not see 45 years of age. The age range of most of the patients from Haiti we do heart surgeries on are between 28 and 35 years old."

The patients go back to Haiti in about a week. They're looking forward to a fresh start with thanks to the team at The Heart Hospital.

"He [Desgrange] can't hold his tears. He can feel the difference right now," Andre said.

Moore stays in contact with patients like Desgrange on WhatsApp.

"I do build a connection with them not only as a patient but as a human being," Moore said.

Michaud hopes this is just the beginning of helping other young Haitians.

"There are a lot of young people like her waiting their turns to come here for the surgery," Andre translated.

The group of five patients are thankful as they return to their home country with a second chance at life.

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