Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Haitian teen heading home after heart surgery

Jean Victor Gustave, 16, talks with Dr. Frederic Guerrier over a bowl of cereal at the doctor’s home in Tierra Verde on Thursday. Gustave is from Haiti and was  brought by Guerrier for open heart surgery last month to repair a hole in his heart. He will have to come back once more.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Jean Victor Gustave, 16, talks with Dr. Frederic Guerrier over a bowl of cereal at the doctor’s home in Tierra Verde on Thursday. Gustave is from Haiti and was brought by Guerrier for open heart surgery last month to repair a hole in his heart. He will have to come back once more.

Before his surgery last month, 16-year-old Jean Victor Gustave's heart beat so hard that he could hear it all throughout the night sometimes.

Growing up in Leogane, a city in Haiti where little to no medical care is available, he spent nearly 15 years suffering from an undiagnosed hole in his heart. The condition left him thin from the constant fatigue and lack of appetite.

Now Gustave looks forward to living a normal life. He wants to study computers and possibly return to the United States one day, but more immediately, he looks forward to playing futbol (soccer) with his friends.

When Dr. Frederic Guerrier, or Dr. G., came across the boy on a medical mission to his native Haiti he knew immediately what had to be done.

Nearly a year later Guerrier brought Gustave and his mother, Yolene St. Juste, to live with him in his Tierra Verde home while the boy awaited surgery. Guerrier covered the cost of the entire trip.

When the first procedure failed to patch the hole, he sent Gustave and his mother to Philadelphia to visit family, while they awaited open heart surgery.

The second surgery was successful but he will need to return to the United States in six months for a final procedure.

"When he tells me that he has a lot more energy, that he's feeling better, that he's feeling stronger, then it's no trouble," said Guerrier, who has promised to help the boy return for his final surgery.

Volunteering his time and energy seems to come naturally to Guerrier. Aside from running his practice as a family physician, for 26 years he has spent one day a month volunteering at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

"He's very special. He goes above and beyond. I don't think anyone has asked him for help and been turned down," said Gladys Leon, a retired nurse who has known Guerrier for more than 20 years.

But Guerrier relied on the charity of many people to get Gustave the care he needed.

The procedures were done free at All Children's Hospital. The cardiac surgeon, nurses, anesthesiologist and administrative staff all volunteered their time.

President and CEO Gary Carnes said the hospital performs about 10 charity heart surgeries a year for children from outside the United States; no child from the U.S. is ever turned away.

Gustave and his mother will return to Haiti this week.

Guerrier plans to return to Haiti on another mission this year and hopes to bring Gustave back for his final procedure.

They're facing a time crunch, Guerrier said.

"Whatever we do we have to get it done before he's 18."

Nick Johnson can be reached at

nickjohnson@sptimes.com or 893-8361.

Haitian teen heading home after heart surgery 03/22/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 1:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  3. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.
  5. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter

    News

    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]