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NBC features Haitian helped by church members


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This morning NBC’s “Today” show featured a report on 15-year-old David Senatus, a boy from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who was injured in the Jan. 12 earthquake.
While treating the boy for a cut, doctors discovered a heart murmur that led to the diagnosis of a serious heart condition — and eventually resulted in valve replacement surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

David Senatus flies from Haiti to Arkansas for heart surgery. (Photo from hopeforhaitischildren.org)

David was one of the young Haitians sponsored by Hope for Haiti’s Children, a Texas-based organization supported by Churches of Christ. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, followed David as he was transported to Arkansas for the life-saving surgery. In Snyderman’s report you’ll see Debbie Vanderbeek, Haiti program director for Hope for Haiti’s Children.
A host of other Americans — including church members — played a role in David’s journey. Deann Martin, a nurse for the heart surgeon at Arkansas Children’s, cared for David. Martin is a member of the Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy, Ark. During his convalescence, David stayed in the home of Tony and Robin Hill, members of the Sylvan Hills Church of Christ in Sherwood, Ark.
David has returned to Haiti. Hope for Haiti’s Children posts updates on its website.
(Special thanks to Dr. David E. Smith of the Haiti Christian Development Project for the info.)
Six months after the earthquake, are you or your church involved in Haiti relief? Please let us know.

  • Feedback
    The “Today” show report gives the impression that nobody knew about David’s condition prior to the Haiti earthquake. In a message I received this morning, Dr. David Smith says that’s not the case.
    Medical missionaries who visited Haiti last year actually detected David’s heart condition. Smith contacted Dr. Robert Morrow, chief of cardiology at Arkansas Children�s Hospital, about getting David to the States for surgery.
    Workers in the U.S. and Haiti were getting things in order for David to travel to Arkansas when the earthquake hit.
    In fact, paperwork to get David to the States hit a major snag after another religious group tried to smuggle more than 30 children out of Haiti, Smith said.
    “In March 2010, during our medical mission trip, David�s condition deteriorated and he had to be admitted to the hospital,” Smith said. Debbie Vanderbeek then made connections with the group that flew David to the States for surgery.
    So Dr. Snyderman’s statement that “the quake may also have saved his life” in the video doesn’t seem all that accurate to me.
    What do you think?
    Erik Tryggestad
    June, 10 2010

    We at the Murrieta church of Christ in California and many others are helping support the feeding of children in Duty School in Cap Hatien through the Kum Ba Yah Foundation.
    The Lord is blessing this work and now about 350 children are being fed life-sustaining food.
    You can learn more from Mr and Mrs Tommy Smith, [email protected] The website is in the process of being finished.
    Sincerely,
    Mrs. Michele Bates
    Michele Bates
    June, 11 2010

    The Ladies Class at Southside Church of Christ in Opelika, AL is donating to the Orphanage and Nutrition Center run by Roberta Edward. The programs are sponsored by the Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, TN.
    Abbie Malone
    June, 16 2010

    Update on David.
    Last week (July 12), I had the opportunity to go to Port au Prince and check in on David and his family. David is doing well and continues to gain strength. I brought a copy of the Today Show video and the family watched it over and over.
    The family is still living in a tent city and has begun rennovations on thier house. Due to high land prices, they have decided that it will be best to just rebuild.
    It was an honor to play a small part in this story.
    Tony Hill
    Tony Hill
    July, 19 2010

    I was involved in this story. Yes, David’s condition was discovered prior to the earthquake. However, his condition deteriorated after the earthquake and the story of how he was gotten to the US is pretty impressive.
    I made the call to Debbie V. to tell her that I had located some medical supplies that were supposedly intended for Hope for Haiti’s Children in a Custom’s warehouse in Santiago, DR. I needed her to send me paperwork so the supplies could be released and subsequently delivered to her via some pilots with whom I was spending the week, producing a video for them. It turned out that the supplies were NOT for her ministry, but she asked if I knew how David and his father could be paroled into the US and if I knew how they might be transported. I immediately put her in contact with the people in charge of the group that I was working with. She was able to use her contacts at the State Department and in the corporate aviation community to get them to Arkansas.
    NBC found out about the story when the aviation group called them – although in their story, they seem to take the credit for David’s getting to the US while not giving the credit to God, where it is due.
    May the earthquake have actually saved David’s life? Yes. His condition had deteriorated such that he probably would have died before his originally scheduled trip to Arkansas. God worked out the details to have me make that fateful call to Hope for Haiti’s Children. The kicker? The next day, we found out that the medical supplies belonged to a ministry called Help for Haiti’s Children. Just a few letters difference!
    To God be the Glory!
    James Lea
    July, 27 2010

    To clarify things, it was NBC and Nancy Snyderman who wrongly took credit for finding David. Not the people from CARE.
    James Lea
    September, 16 2010

    James:
    We have posted <a href=”https://www.christianchronicle.org/article2159125~Church_members_help_Haitian_boy_receive_life-saving_surgery” rel=”nofollow”>a story about David on our website</a> that explains the chain of events better than this blog post.
    Erik Tryggestad
    September, 16 2010

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