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Haiti Earthquake Diary

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.

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Then she’s lifted from my arms and placed on a bed, surrounded by a team of doctors.

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I feel an unbelievable sense of relief, and feel guilty for feeling relieved that I am no longer holding her.

By now the baby has a name – Jeanne. I appreciate that the staff, who it turns out are from the University of Miami, hasn’t wanted to give her a number.

I walk outside, trying to get a line to ABC, to tell them why we haven’t yet showed up at the hotel, and ask them again why they haven’t responded to Lara’s plea to get a camera crew to us.

It turns out they’d been trying, just had trouble finding where we were. On my way back to Baby Jeanne I see Alonzo Morning, tell him about the miracle baby. He just smiles and nods his head, says there is a reason she was meant to live.

Lara and I find Sanba and we make our way back to the ABC base. They love the story, want more on it. Right away, in fact, so I can’t even shower before I head back out with a crew to the site of the rescue to see if we can find the guy who pulled Jeanne from the rubble. And we do, almost immediately.

Pasteur Leni August saw the baby’s foot moving when he went to gather pieces of wood to use to help block off the streets at night. Within minutes he had moved enough debris to pull her out, and then I showed up.

Baby Jeanne’s parents had been in the house when it crashed, Pasteur Leni says. Her parents survived, but her grandmother was killed. Her uncle is here, too - Gilbert, and he says her mom, Nadine, thinks her baby is dead.

Things in Haiti hardly ever worked out so well. We exchange numbers, and I promise to be in touch so that Nadine can know where to visit her baby.

But when we get to the site of the triage unit, Baby Jeanne is gone.

She’d been sent out on a jet to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport about an hour or two earlier. According to Karen Schneider, Pediatric Emergency Medical Physician at John Hopkins, she had an adrenaline rush that lasted about an hour, then she crashed.

They were able to stabilize her and when they found out that there was an empty jet headed to the States, Barth Green, who heads up the University of Miami team, was able to pull some strings and get her on the plane.

Jenni, as I later learned, is her real name. She is the first Haitian to be accepted into the US for treatment. Other countries had opened their doors to medical emergencies, but not the good old US of A. According to Karen, Jenni smiled at her when Karen said goodbye. That made me smile, too.

So I am wrong. The day isn’t so bad after all. Among all the tears, there really is something to smile about.

For all stories, blogs, and updates on Haiti after the earthquake, go to The Monitor's Haiti page.

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