Just days after his surgery at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital, 11-month-old Lorens Balthazar was sitting on his mother’s lap, laughing and enjoying all of the people who stood around his room. With the exception of the stitches on his head and nose, it was hard to imagine that he received a lifesaving operation.
While lifesaving procedures are performed daily at Novant Health hospitals, Lorens’ story is unique for a number of reasons. Lorens and his mother Marie live in a rural area of Haiti where it is difficult to access healthcare. Lorens was born with an encephalocele, a neural tube defect that prevents the skull from closing completely and causes brain tissue to fall into the face. He constantly battled poor health, and had meningitis four times.
Joseph Osselin, MD, a Haitian physician working in the rural clinic where Lorens received care recognized that he could control the infections that the young child was experiencing. However, it would require surgery to remove his facial growth, which would have to be performed in a more medically advanced facility.
Fortunately, in January 2013, the nonprofit organization Give Hope Global conducted a mission trip to various orphanages in rural Haiti, stopping in to help at the clinic where Lorens received care. Will Caldwell, Jr., MD, an otolaryngologist (EENT) on staff with Novant Health who was participating in the trip, attempted to help Lorens, who was seizing due to a 104 degree fever caused by meningitis. Speaking with Dr. Osselin, Dr. Caldwell and others on the trip realized that they needed to bring Lorens to America.
Novant Health agreed to support Lorens’ operation, and the gears were set in motion. The team, along with Give Help Global, sorted out logistics, including securing passports, birth certificates and visas. Finally, Lorens, Marie and Dr. Osselin arrived in the U.S., and on June 5, Lorens had surgery at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital. With the help of 12 physicians, many nurses, and other hospital staff giving their time for free, Lorens’ tumor was removed in a six-and-a-half hour surgery. Lorens is now well on his way to recovering and resuming the normal life of a toddler.
There are many other stories of our Novant Health family doing meaningful, lifesaving mission work. From aid trips to struggling areas of the world, such as the one to save Lorens, to volunteering in our local communities, our employees perform selfless work year-round to improve the world around them.