SAINT LOUIS (KSDK) - It took two and a half years, several doctors, volunteers, and an entire community's help. But now, a boy who was injured in the Haiti earthquake and brought here for treatment is finally healed and headed home.
His leg was broken in the Haiti earthquake and the bone was infected, so doctors said 13-year-old Jean Patrickson would have to lose his leg. But one doctor, softspoken Dr. Edward Fink disagreed. The leg could be saved. But it couldn't happen in Haiti.
"I had a confrontation and said I demand to take over his care," Dr. Fink said. "I told them I will be totally responsible. But you can't do what you plan to do."
So Dr. Fink teamed up with the World Pediatric Project to bring jean to Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis.
"Jean is very much an individual," said World Pediatric Project's Kathy Corbett. "He was a strong child from the day he hit St. Louis, with so much personality and so much depth. But he was so quiet and reserved that you know you would have to wait and watch to bloom."
And bloom he has, thanks in large part to the love, care and support of Paul and Frannie Erker, who took in Jean and his cousin, Romel Dufrene.
"Honestly with these two boys, we didn't know how long they would be here," Paul Erker said. "We thought they might be here for a couple weeks and then go to another family. But sure enough, they've been here two years and three months."
And in that time, they've become a vital part of the Erkers already large and loving family. Jean's leg has now fully recovered and with it, jean has regained a bit of his childhood.
"It was great to be with him and be a part of this process," Romel said. "It was great."
But now, it's time for Jean and Romel to say goodbye and head home to Haiti, with memories of their new home in St. Louis forever in their hearts.
"I'm feeling good," Jean said. "I hope I can keep in touch with people here, but I'm excited to see my family and see the ocean and see my parents. It's going to be great."
The world pediatric project is always looking for people to help children like Jean. For more information about the organization, visit www.worldpediatricproject.org.