In May, Henri Ford ’84 led an international team of eighteen surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses in the successful separation of conjoined twins, the first such operation ever performed in Haiti.
Ford, who was born in Haiti, is the surgeon in chief at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and vice-dean for medical education, professor and vice-chair for clinical affairs, Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.
When the twins, Marian and Michelle, were born, they were connected at the abdomen. During a seven-hour surgery at the Mirebalais University Hospital, they were successfully separated; twelve days later, they were discharged. According to Ford, the girls are expected to make a full recovery.
The twins, who were part of a set of triplets, were born with their sister, Tamar.
Because the Mirebalais hospital was able to provide the necessary surgical and medical infrastructure and integrate it with the local health system, the surgery could be performed in Haiti, obviating the need to transport the infants to a U.S-based hospital. Preparation for the procedure included training local clinicians in the specialized postsurgical care the twins would require.
Mirebalais University Hospital, a state-of-the-art teaching hospital on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, opened in April 2013 to help meet the health care needs of the people of Haiti. In 2010, an earthquake destroyed many of Haiti’s hospitals, clinics, and clinical education facilities.
Mirebalais was built through the efforts of a coalition of nongovernmental, governmental, corporate, foundation, and academic partners that was led by Partners In Health, a global health care delivery nonprofit cofounded by Jim Yong Kim ’88, president of the World Bank Group, and Paul Farmer ’88, the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard and head of the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.
Photo: Courtesy of Children's Hospital Los Angeles