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Joel’s Story: LIFE in Haiti as a double amputee

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Joel is a dear friend of myLIFEspeaks, member of our village commUNITY, and an active participant at our weekly elderly program gatherings. He is also the father of one of our beloved House Parents, Mirlande. Joel is a friend to all and he loves to sit on his front porch and greet everyone walking by with a smile and a “Bon jou”!

Joel has diabetes and due to lack of medicine, testing units, and diabetic education in Haiti, his diabetes was poorly controlled. In 2016, Joel developed a small open sore on one of his toes. The infection continued to get worse. What started as a small infected area developed into a large wound. Joel ended up having his leg amputated below the knee to stop the spread of the infection. He was devastated to lose his leg but grateful to be alive.

We had a prosthetic leg made for Joel. He started rehabilitation at LIFE therapy, gaining his strength back and learning to walk again. He was able to resume daily LIFE activities, care for himself, and even participate again in Zumba at myLIFEspeaks elderly program.

Then in 2020, Joel developed another small sore on the big toe of his remaining foot. We immediately jumped into preventative action. LIFE clinic began to treat and monitor him closely, but the infection continued to spread. Joel nearly died this second time due to the infection and septic shock. The first hospital turned him away saying, “There is nothing more we can do”. Between violent riots at the time, hospitals refusing to take him, and the ambulance helicopters being grounded due to a storm; the odds of survival were stacked against Joel. But we were not going to give up on him.

At this point, Joel was unconscious and clinging to LIFE. Miraculously, we were able to get him to another hospital in Port Au Prince and into emergency surgery to amputate his other leg and stop the infection. However, he was in such a bad state we weren’t even sure he’d survive the operation.

Before he went to surgery, myLIFEspeaks Public Health Liaison at the time, Rhonda, stepped in with Joel’s family and asked to pray over him before they took him back to the OR. As we gathered around his stretcher and laid hands on him and prayed, all the nurses and doctors working in the ER and those waiting for him for surgery all quietly came into the room and joined us in prayer over Joel.

The surgery was successful. Joel survived and after a few days at the hospital his body stabilized without the infection and he was able to go home. A true miracle.

The commUNITY of Neply rallied around Joel and helped with meals and housework while he regained strength. LIFE therapy staff also lived next door to Joel and were able to check in on him, do exercises with him at home, and get him a wheelchair.

Today, Joel is independent and able to transfer in/out of bed, his chair, and get around as he needs in his home. For a while, Joel was noticeably depressed having not only grieved losing a leg and his independence one time, but now twice. However, through encouragement, prayer, and the love of an entire village community wrapped around him, Joel is now back to himself.

He attends weekly elderly programming with a little help from myLIFEspeaks staff coming to pick him up. Joel is also able to attend church, a priority for him, with the help of others driving him.

Joel is one of many miracles we’ve witnessed at myLIFEspeaks. Needless to say, his LIFE speaks.

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