A 4-month-old baby spent four days alone in the rubble after the Haiti earthquake
Jenny was evacuated to Florida for medical treatment; only later were her parents able to claim her
Five years later, she is a happy and healthy little girl
For 10 days following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, two CNN colleagues and I lived in a tent hospital run by Project Medishare. Our hearts ached as we heard the cries of the injured, as we watched surgeons performed amputations without general anesthesia, as people died in front of our eyes.
But, in the midst of this despair, a miracle arrived at Project Medishare. CNN Senior Photographer Ferre Dollar caught these images seconds after she arrived. Look closely at the center of the photo.
This 4-month-old baby had spent four days alone in the rubble and was unconscious and extremely dehydrated. No one knew if she would live or die.
But look at her now!
CNN medical producer John Bonifield and I had the pure joy of seeing this wonderful young lady again last week. Her name is Jenny, and she’s 5 years old and a pre-kindergartner in Miami. She can write her name and loves to color and dress up as a princess and is adorable and spunky and smart and funny.
Here are all the miracles that it took to save her life:
1. That someone happened to find Jenny in the rubble four days after the quake.
2. That at a time when vehicles were in short supply, Jenny’s rescuers flagged down a car to rush her to the hospital.
3. That the Medishare team of doctors and nurses, led by Dr. Karen Schneider, an emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins, managed to get fluids into her. Jenny was so dehydrated her veins had collapsed and Schneider had to put a needle through her shinbone and directly into her bone marrow to deliver fluids. They didn’t have to sedate her – Jenny was so unconscious she didn’t even cry.
Here’s Schneider reunited with Jenny a year after her rescue.
4. That Project Medishare found a flight headed immediately to Miami, because she needed surgery the tent hospital couldn’t provide. Hospital workers flagged down a UN truck and promised the driver they’d name the baby after her if she got the airport on time.
5. That the baby, then named Patricia after the truck driver, survived the flight to Miami and the emergency surgery.
When the baby arrived in Miami, it was presumed her parents were dead. She’d been found in the rubble next to the body of a woman, thought to be her mother.
But that woman turned out to be her baby sitter. Shortly after the baby arrived in Miami, a couple came forward saying they were her parents. Many people doubted them, thinking they just wanted to get to Miami, but DNA testing showed they were telling the truth and the baby’s name was actually Jenny.
Now Jenny and her parents, Nadine Devilme and Junior Alexis, and her 17-month-old little sister, Naima, live in an apartment in North Miami. Her parents have explained to Jenny that the bumpy scars on her left arm are from when she was crushed in the rubble of the Haiti earthquake. They’ve told her she’s a miracle, that Jesus saved her.
Jenny nods her head and says she understands. But really she’s a little embarrassed by all the attention and just wants to go put on her Cinderella dress and go outside and ride her bike and then draw pictures of big red flowers under a sun and sign her name: