Haiti earthquake diary: 2-month-old baby Jenni is rescued
A 2-month-old baby girl is found alive among the ruins of a house. After we rush her to a UN triage unit, Jenni becomes the first Haitian to be accepted into the US for treatment.
Saturday, Jan. 16.Skip to next paragraph
Kathie has lived and worked as a writer in Haiti for more than 20 years. Her memoir, "Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Voudou, and Civil Strife in Haiti," is about her life in Haiti with her former husband, a Haitian musician, and their son.
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A few hours later Lara Coger of ABC-TV, and I are on our way back to the Hotel Ibolele. We're passing through the Canape Vert neighborhood when I notice someone on the left side of the road. He's standing on top of a huge pile of debris with a shovel or axe, and shouting to someone on my side of the street.
We’re slowed already because of traffic so I roll down the window and ask, "What’s up?" The guy on my side of the street says, "There’s a baby alive beneath the debris."
I look again at the pile – it’s huge. I can’t say how tall it is in feet but it’s an entire hillside of rubble. "They need professionals," I say to Lara, "Let’s look for the number of some rescue squad to call."
But before I have a chance to pull out my phone, I hear the guy on top of the hill shout, "Li vivant, li vivant!" I see him running down the hill with a baby in his hands.
I’m out the car and running up the hill. I hope I looked across the street before I ran but I don’t remember. And then I am in the car, the baby cradled in my arms, and everyone around is saying, "Mezami, gade ti bebe a."
My heart is pounding. But really pounding, and my adrenaline is running at 220 volts. I’m not sure what I’ve just done but here I am with a baby that is breathing, that has somehow survived three and a half days under the rubble, and I’ve got him/her in my lap.
But where to go? Lara is calm and collected and directs Sanba, our driver, toward the airport, where the UN has set up a triage unit.
Sanba keeps it together, too, driving as quickly as possible through impossible traffic. Lara takes a piece of cloth and wets it, puts it by the baby’s mouth and the baby sucks. And sucks, and sucks some more.
The baby's nose and mouth and one eye need to be cleaned and it looks like she may have two head wounds. But she is breathing and at this point it’s all I care about. Her right eye is clear and she seems to be looking at me, seems to be alert, and I’m talking nonstop, telling her in English and Creole that it’s OK, that she’s safe now, that we’re going to get her to a place that will take care of her.
I’m panicked, really panicked that she is not going to make it. If she doesn't, then I will never get over it. Lara pours water on her face and she reacts beautifully, just the way she should, agitated and annoyed. She continues to suck, and when she stops I shake her a bit, put my head down close to her chest to make sure that she is still breathing.
The odor is intense. It’s not an odor of death, but it’s really unpleasant. Her clothes are now wet from the water, my pants and shirt also wet, and I know that I am going to smell the same as she does before we make it to the hospital.
We get stuck in a traffic jam and I am almost hyperventilating. When a UN vehicle passes, Lara tries to convince them to let us go with them. They say, "No." But they put on their lights and let us follow them. It’s now been 45 minutes and my anxiety is increasing by the minute. Unbearable.
We finally make it to the UN triage unit, and immediately they sit me down with the baby, listen to the situation and start to evaluate. They continue to keep her hydrated, then peel off her pants to get her into dry clothes.