A Lesson in Gratitude
This month, as we bring our website and our email subscribers up-to-date concerning Tafana’s journey, we encourage each one of us to consider how blessed we are to be living in the United States of America! May we keep that thought in mind as we envision the details of Tafana’s hospitalizations, surgery and post-surgery care. (Watch for the underlined details.) While we are extremely grateful that God opened the door at one of Haiti’s best hospitals and touched the hearts of many people to pray and financially make the surgery possible, the shocking reality of the limited medical care in Haiti makes us shake our heads in disbelief. We give God the glory for watching over Tafana every step of the way!
Message from Jacques Merine:
Dear friends and family of Source of Life Ministries,
“I want to thank you so much for the way you have helped to bless Tafana over the past two months. You have been extremely supportive of Tafana both spiritually and financially. You have prayed, and you have shared the updates so that others would also pray with us. When we came to you asking for financial support, your response was overwhelming. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for making it possible for Tafana to have surgery and begin the care she needs to regain strength and mobility. Without your financial help, the Source of Life budget could not cover Tafana’s medical expenses.
Please continue to pray. I trust God. He has been so good to us and has done so many impossible things for us before. One day, I will thank you for helping us to help Tafana have a normal life! I know through God all things are possible. I count on you to continue to pray for Tafana. May God continue to bless you, may God continue to keep your family safe, and may God continue to bless you physically, financially and spiritually. Thank you for everything.”
Tafana’s Journey Began (a summary)
On the afternoon of July 3, Jacques received word that Tafana was sick with a fever and was vomiting. He instructed staff to take Tafana to a doctor who had her admitted to the hospital in Lèogâne for tests. In the next couple days, it became clear that Tafana was in grave condition. On July 8, the first hospital released her, which is common in Haiti if the hospital is unequipped to help or believes there is no hope of survival.
Gratefully, another hospital in Diquini accepted Tafana as a patient later that day. Her condition continued to deteriorate. She was unable to eat for many days, her kidneys and bowels stopped functioning, her jaw became locked, her temperature rose to 109°, and she began experiencing seizures. Test results showed Pylori bacteria in her system, so she was given fluids and antibiotics by IV.
Because her condition was far worse than the descriptions of Pylori, the doctor suggested a CT scan of her brain. Medically we were told there were no other options for Tafana. We placed her in God’s hands, continued praying for a miracle, and believed that God knew better than all of us.
Tafana’s transportation to a radiology unit in Port-au-Prince was not by ambulance, her vital signs were not monitored, there was no medical equipment to keep her stable, and neither was the hospital making arrangements with a facility. While in grave condition, she was driven for hours by our SLM staff to the first location to find out whether they could do the CT scan. Praise God; they did the scan!
On July 13, we praised God when Tafana miraculously awakened, tried to smile, and responded when Marie-Ange spoke to her! That same day, the CT results were available, and we were told that Tafana had a tumor somewhere in her head. Later the doctor explained that Tafana needed to have surgery because the tumor was large and growing. He said that if she did not receive surgery soon, she would die. Over the coming days, we rejoiced because Tafana experienced major improvements, but the left side of her body was paralyzed, and we knew she had a long road ahead in dealing with the tumor.
A number of people began researching possible medical options in both Haiti and the USA. When the doctor in Haiti was ready to make his final recommendation, SLM wanted to be ready to make a final decision, knowing that we had left no stone unturned. We asked people to pray for wisdom and supernatural guidance, and we saw God provide that!
Message from Jacques: “My original instinct was that I didn’t want Tafana to have the surgery in Haiti, but we did not have time to bring her to the US. In fact, I was not even sure the US Embassy was fully functioning in Haiti due to COVID. I had no choice but to try to get help for her in Haiti because time was of the essence.”
The conclusions of all the searches regarding medical care in Haiti were the same: The hospital where the Haitian doctor wanted to do the surgery was the only one that is qualified to do brain surgery in Haiti, and the doctor who would be performing the surgery is known as Haiti’s “senior formally trained neurosurgeon.” We thank God for the door that was opened for Tafana! The majority of Haitians would never be able financially to receive this level of care.
The doctor had given a break-down and total of $5,000 for the surgery. The money was required to be in the accounts of the doctor, hospital, and anesthesiologist before a date would be given for the surgery. (Medical care in Haitian hospitals must be pre-paid.) We also knew that the minute surgery was completed, everything necessary afterward would be additional fees. It was imperative for us to have enough money on-hand so there would not be any delay in Tafana’s care. We appealed to Source of Life Ministries’ supporters and other ministries through Facebook and email, and in less than 48 hours, money pledged was sufficient to cover surgery and to begin her aftercare. This is a testimony to the power of God and the love of His people!
Note: Much of the money that has been received to date has been used. There were many fees after surgery for hospital care, medicines, and the lab; the fees for physical therapy, which is beginning soon, will be high. Not all of the pledges have been received so far. If you are able to complete the pledge you made, we encourage you to send it soon so that funds are available for us to continue Tafana’s medical care.
The Days Before Surgery Were “Like a Roller Coaster!”
Monday, 8/3 – Harold safely delivered Tafana, Mamoune (her mother), and Marie-Ange (our staff member) to the hospital by late morning as the doctor had requested. Hours after arriving, they were informed that the surgery might not be performed the next day because the hospital was dealing with many gunshot wounds from gang activity over the weekend, and there were no rooms or beds available. Since there are no waiting rooms in hospitals in Haiti, the three sat in the sun in the courtyard at the hospital for many hours waiting for definite information. When evening came, Jacques had to locate a hotel for them for overnight.
Early Tuesday morning, 8/4 – Surprisingly, Marie-Ange received a call at the hotel that the surgery was still planned for that day. They hurried to the hospital at 7:00 am to meet the doctor. Then they waited all day outside the hospital. At 3:00 pm, Marie-Ange sent a text to Jacques to ask what to do because it was too hot in the sun and Tafana was getting too tired to wait any longer that day. The doctor had not arrived! Jacques told them to return to the hotel for the night.
Thank God for His grace. The doctor arrived at the hospital before they left. To God we give praise! The doctor said he believed “it was possible for the surgery to be done tomorrow (Wednesday).” The hospital registered Tafana, gave her a room, and began doing blood tests. (The results of the tests the doctor ordered the previous week had been hand-delivered to the doctor by SLM staff, but the hospital had not received the results!)
Wednesday, 8/5 – In the morning, it appeared that the hospital was preparing Tafana for surgery. At 11:30 am, Marie-Ange received word from the doctor saying, “allow Tafana to eat. The surgery will be tomorrow (Thursday).” (Can you imagine the mental anguish Tafana and her mother must have been feeling?)
Thursday, 8/6 – At 12:00 pm, word finally came that Tafana was in the surgery room. At 4:30 pm, word came that surgery was complete, and Tafana was awake!!!
Friday, 8/7 – Our sweet little girl began her journey to rest and recover from brain surgery. The report was, “Tafana is recovering very well.”
Saturday, 8/8 – In the morning, Tafana opened her eyes and recognized her mother and Marie-Ange immediately and spoke to them! She was being given a very mild diet but told them she wanted more to eat! Wonderful News came!!!!
That night, the doctor called Marie-Ange at 9:30 pm and told her to get medicine for Tafana. (Patients only receive medicine while in the hospital if a family member is able to go get the medicine, pay for it and take it to the patient.) When Marie-Ange entered the room, Tafana opened her eyes and sat up and put the medicine in her mouth by herself!!!
Sunday, 8/9 – At 6 AM, Marie-Ange was called to go into the room to bathe Tafana. (There is no hospital staff to help patients with personal care; family members need to stay at the hospital so they can be called upon to help night or day!) Again, Tafana sat up and told Marie-Ange that she could do it herself!!! This was great reason to rejoice!!!
Monday, 8/10 – The doctor told Marie-Ange he wanted them to take Tafana outside for awhile. The description received was, “Tafana is improving very quickly!” Thank you Jesus for Your grace!
Thursday, 8/13 – Tafana was discharged from the hospital.
Current physical condition:
Although Tafana is very weak and needs both speech and physical therapy, she has been improving step-by-step. She had a check-up with the doctor and had the staples removed from the incision on August 19. The doctor was pleased with how well the incision is healing, did not see any signs of infection and did not anticipate any new problems arising from the surgery. We give God the glory!
The next step is for Tafana to begin physical therapy. The hospital recommended a therapist who works for them and lives in Carrefour, which is about half-way between Port-au-Prince and the safe home in Gressier.
Marie-Ange contacted the therapist and learned that he is willing to travel to Gressier on his day off to give Tafana therapy. This will be a blessing because it will eliminate the need to travel to Port-au-Prince through areas that can be dangerous.
The doctor said that the results of the biopsy on the tumor would not be available til possibly a month and a half after surgery, which will be sometime in September. If the tumor was cancerous, arrangements will need to be made for Tafana to have chemotherapy. We continue to pray and entrust her into God’s hands.
More Details of Tafana’s Medical Care:
It was understood on the day of surgery that the doctor would send the tumor to a lab to be tested. That was not completely accurate! The day after surgery, Marie-Ange needed to take a taxi and hand-carry the specimen to a lab. When she arrived at the lab, the lab would not accept the container because the doctor had not given her a prescription to tell the lab what needed to be done with it. After getting the prescription from the doctor, Marie-Ange made a second trip to the lab to deliver the specimen.
The information that we received before and after surgery was slow and without a lot of details. One complication faced was the difficulty for Marie-Ange to keep her phone battery charged. In Haiti few locations have a consistent source of power. The hospital has power but does not allow people to tap into it.
Hospitals in Haiti are unable to give medical care until payment is first received. As we said, the minute surgery was complete, we knew that everything afterward would be additional fees (as well as her hospitalization, medicines, and tests prior to surgery). We are so thankful for the money that was given to make it possible for us to be prepared to pay for Tafana’s care!
More eye-opening examples of hospital details
Marie-Ange had to go buy new sheets every day for Tafana’s hospital bed. They are not provided by the hospital. The hospital is not able to wash the soiled sheets; they are actually put in the trash.
Each day Marie-Ange paid a fee to the hospital for food for Tafana. Of course Marie-Ange and Mamoune also needed to buy food for themselves, pay for taxi, and hotel.
The doctor gave Marie-Ange prescriptions for medication, and she went to the pharmacy to purchase the medicine.
It is essential for patients to have a family care-giver available 24/7 while hospitalized, but there are no waiting rooms, no lazy boys, and no family lodging. Except for the first night when they stayed in a hotel, Marie-Ange (our staff member) and Mamoune (Tafana’s mother) had nowhere except the floor or the ground to lay their heads for nine days. After returning to the children’s home, Marie-Ange began feeling like she was going to faint. Finally one day, she fainted as she was talking to Sony from total exhaustion. After being checked at a hospital, Jacques encouraged her to rest for a week instead of coming to work.
Here in the USA, we can hardly imagine the problems faced on a daily basis in Haiti, and we definitely can’t picture the “health care system” in Haiti. While the realities of “health care” in Haiti are sad and shocking to us here in the USA, it is also true that the majority of people in Haiti are not financially able to have the level of care which Tafana is receiving! Let’s be grateful to God today for the blessings available to us in the USA!
“I would like to thank everyone for coming forward to help Tafana financially and for being a part of Source of Life Ministries. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you so much. It’s obvious; we would not be able to help Tafana without your support! May God continue to bless you and your family, spiritually, physically and financially.” – Jacques Merine
If you would like to give toward Tafana’s care:
Make note that your gift is for “Tafana’s care.”
- To give electronically, click the Donate button on our website: https://sourceoflifeministries.com/
- To give by check or money order, mail your donation to:
TSM/Source of Life Ministries
c/o Jacques Merine, Founder
P.O. Box 96
Hanover, PA 17331