Two six-month-old conjoined twins from Haiti, named Marian and Michelle Bernard, were separated in May by the Chief of Surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Henri Ford.A native of Haiti who left the country shortly after his birth, Dr. Ford went on to graduate from an Ivy League college and become a pediatric surgeon. Until the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti, Dr. Ford rarely visited his birthplace.
That changed the day after the earthquake, when Dr. Ford left to spend the next two weeks tending to the thousands injured in the catastrophe. The experience resonated with him enough that he made a commitment to returning.
In subsequent travels, he became aware of the twins’ plight, but given the often-substandard conditions of hospitals in Haiti, faced a big challenge in trying to make their surgery a reality.Using the teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, Dr. Ford was able to combine volunteer health professionals from the United States with Haitians working there in training them to make this surgery a success.
Such training took months to make sure that everyone knew what to do in this delicate situation. When it came time for the actual surgery, Dr. Ford had the entire team join hands and then led them in prayer for a succ.essful outcome.Seven hours after the surgeons started, the twins were safely separated. One dramatic moment came when the blood pressure of Michelle dropped suddenly, but quick actions helped stave off disaster, including a transfusion and IV fluids.