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Roman's Story: A LIFE-threatening bone infection, the will to survive, and the faith of a community

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

In the summer of 2017, Roman Innocent was a healthy, active 10-year-old boy until an infection, from a cut on his leg, left him fighting for his LIFE.

Roman fell and scraped his legs while playing pick-up soccer with his friends. This relatively normal incident quickly turned south when the cuts turned into a raging infection, landing Roman in the hospital. He stayed there from June to November of 2017, fighting sepsis, fevers, and severe anemia.

Doctors tried antibiotics and surgeries to open the wound areas. The efforts didn't work and Roman was discharged from the hospital in late November 2017. Doctors told his mother, Elmise, there was simply “nothing more they could do”. They told her to take Roman home because he was too sick and was going to die.

Roman didn’t die. Elmise continued to seek out help for her son in her local community. In January 2018, myLIFEspeaks received a phone call from a physician in nearby Leogane asking if he could refer a young teenager who “can’t walk and needs physical therapy," to LIFE Therapy Clinic.

On January 29, 2018, Roman and his mother arrived in Neply. Legs wrapped in bandages, Roman was lifted off the motorcycle and carried inside myLIFEspeaks’ community center. His mother followed closely behind carrying a thick file folder of papers and x-rays.

As myLIFEspeaks' Public Health Liaison and Head of Physical Therapy, Rhonda Nisbett Pierre, looked through his medical charts, she quickly realized there was a lot more going on than just not being able to stand or walk. Roman had multiple open wounds on his right leg, left leg, and hip. One wound on his knee was so deep that his quadricep tendon was visible. His left leg was unable to flex at the hip or knee.

Upon reading his charts and inspecting his wounds, Rhonda came to the conclusion that Roman most likely had chronic osteomyelitis or a bone infection. The infection probably occurred after his fall during soccer in which bacteria managed to enter through the cuts on his legs.

We told Roman and his mom that, unlike the hospital, we weren’t going to give up on him; because God doesn’t give up on us. We told Roman that his LIFE has a purpose and God kept him alive for a reason.

We gave him a walker and wheelchair and taught him how to use them. Roman practiced standing up. We continued wound care, therapy for strengthening, and had him practice standing and walking. Then we arranged for Roman to consult with Dr. Alexis at Adventist Diquini: a trusted hospital that could help with chronic osteomyelitis.

His infections were still very bad and he had to have several major operations to clean out and drain the deep wounds. There were times when we didn’t know if Roman would make it or not. The infection was so bad. The odds were definitely against him. But we were hopeful and continued to pray and hope for the best.

We knew Roman was extremely strong and resilient. The infection wouldn’t win without a hard fight. From March 2018 through the end of the year, Roman’s wounds continued to slowly heal, albeit with a few setbacks. We had him in aggressive physical therapy and on a daily antibiotic regimen.

With lots of hard work, pain, and tears, Roman finally gained back enough knee flexion to walk and even ride a bike! X-rays revealed great news of new bone growth filling in on Roman’s right tibia.

On February 1st, 2019, almost exactly a year after Roman and his mom showed up at myLIFEspeaks’ community center for help, Roman’s leg was finally healed with skin coverage. He was ready to go back home! Roman and his mom moved back in with their family in a nearby village.

MyLIFEspeaks Public Health program continues to follow Roman’s progress and assists with the continued antibiotic regimen and follow-up visits with Dr. Alexis. Roman still battles pockets of infection that come up every so often that require minor surgery.

He takes antibiotics daily to prevent the infection from living dormant in his body and flaring up. We regularly monitor this and adjust accordingly. Hopefully, someday the infection will be completely killed and he can get off the antibiotics. However, so far every time we’ve tried it has come back.

Otherwise, Roman is doing exceptionally well and is back in his home village, attending school, and has his LIFE back! His wound is still all healed and seems to be staying that way. His leg length discrepancy has been causing him some back pain recently, especially since he has grown more. Our hope is to God-willingly be able to fund surgery in the near future to fix his leg discrepancy. He often asks us about it.

Roman and his mom continue to return periodically to Neply to visit friends they have made here. Today, Roman can stand, walk, and run and is back to being a normal teenager. Both he and his mother know and believe that God saved his LIFE and continues to heal him.

Roman's LIFE speaks.


You can help transform LIFE and provide more success stories, like Roman's, by joining #TheTable, myLIFEspeaks monthly donor program! For as little as $5 a month or a cup of coffee, you can keep ministry moving forward in Haiti!

Members of The Table are the backbone of myLIFEspeaks, helping us continue our work today and elevate Haiti’s tomorrow. It’s not about how much you give. It’s about the heart behind it. It is because of support from people like you, we are able to change lives for the Kingdom daily; precious lives like Roman's.

By joining #TheTable, you are claiming a seat among myLIFEspeaks most loyal supporters, who are committed to bringing family, education, public health, and all LIFE has to offer to Haiti by giving each month.

Join here.

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