* Photo credit: Ross Kopelman, Surgical Support Volunteer.
"As a youth burn survivor myself I can appreciate the proactive role that Sam and the Burn Advocates Network are taking to help youth live meaningful lives after burn accidents," writes Kéto Hodges on his blog.
At the age of 4, Kéto sustained 2nd-and-3rd degree burns in his home country of Haiti due to a cooking accident. Caring medical missionaries including his future adoptive mother, Dr. Guy Theodore, founder of L'Hospital Bienfaisance de Pignon, and Shriners Hospitals for Children, saved him from death and relocated him to the US, where he underwent 14 reconstructive plastic surgeries from 1985-1995.
Samuel Davis, a partner at Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C., is also the founder of Burn Advocates Network, which exists to support burn survivors of any age—youth, military combat veterans, and senior citizens through the post-accident recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration.
Kéto and Sam are currently thousands of miles away from home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, along with the other Burn Advocates Network volunteers who have accompanied him on his trip.
In a rushed text message, Ross Kopelman—a volunteer and son of the Haiti mission's Chief Surgeon, Joel Kopelman, MD, F.A.C.S.—tells us, "Both my father and I have had direct interaction with patients. I've been acting as his surgical assistant, though in America I wouldn't be qualified beyond EMT to assist him."
In February 2010, Burn Advocates Network donated and personally delivered 60,000 pounds of medical supplies, 200 mattresses, food, clothing, and water to Haiti. In April, they delivered another 40,000 pounds and built North Haiti's first Physical and Occupational Therapy Center. August marks their third mission.
Although Burn Advocates Network's mission statement declares that their objective is to support burn survivors, Sam and his volunteers are in Haiti to do much more than that. He tells us that there are plans to build Haiti's first Burn Care and Rehabilitation Center, but we can see from his actions that he is not ignoring the other daily crises appearing before the team, burn cases or not.
Ross's text message continues, "A man fell from a two-story building and severely ruptured and tore his hand. We both took care of him yesterday. One patient had a collapsed lung that needed to be fixed. We found patients with benign tumors who will have to be sent back to the US. We witnessed spinal taps of patients with severe fevers, a lot of tuberculosis. They're missing supplies and you have to be careful not to use too much of what they have—it has to be rationed carefully."
Please follow along as we share Sam and Kéto's journey. We will be posting photos and updates as we get them. Stay tuned!
This article was co-authored by Lauren D. Shinn, a senior at Montclair State University double majoring in Classics and Latin, with a minor in Creative Writing. She aspires to be a lawyer and was recently appointed the campaign manager of Burn Advocates Network. She also interns at Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C. and strives to incorporate her diverse talents and interests—which include her strong writing skills and her knowledge of multiple languages—in her work for both organizations. Follow Lauren on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook.