Partnering to Save Lives

Who do you call when a patient in critical condition needs to be transported from one medical facility to another?

In Haiti, you can call Haiti Air Ambulance (HAA).

Also known as Ayiti Air Anbilans, since 2014 this impactful organization has been operating the country’s only helicopter ambulance service. Given Haiti’s mountainous terrain and often unpaved roads, ground travel between medical facilities can easily take hours—time that a patient may not have. But a helicopter ambulance can cover the same distance in a matter of minutes and administer in-flight emergency care. 

HAA’s core mission is to expand access to healthcare, medical supplies/equipment, healthcare job training, and community health education. Recently, with key roads impassable due to gang violence, they’ve transported not only patients but also urgently needed supplies and doctors. We are tremendously grateful for our partnership with them.

Both St. Boniface Hospital and our satellite Villa Clinic have relied on HAA’s services for many years. The organization has been a critical partner in helping us save more patients in more places, like 18-month-old Widens. When Widens became critically ill, his mother Omenne knew they had to get as quickly as possible from their home outside of Port-au-Prince to SBH. In the slideshow below, follow their journey for how we worked together to save this young boy’s life.

A red, white, and blue helicopter marked Ayiti Air Anbilans, touched down on a dry dirt field under blue skies.

© Nadia Todres

Widens and Omenne come from Carrefour, a city on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The Haiti Air Ambulance helicopter picked them up from a nearby hospital and landed here in a field near St. Boniface Hospital. 

Two women and one man, all in uniforms, gloves, and face masks, lift a baby and IV out of the helicopter. A woman in a dress stands to one side.

© Nadia Todres

Flight staff gently remove baby Widens from his safety harness, under the watchful eye of his mother, Omenne.

A uniformed male EMT carries a baby swaddled in white toward a vehicle with its rear doors open. Beside them walks a woman holding up an IV bag.

© Nadia Todres

They carry him to the waiting SBH ambulance, along with his IV.

A Haitian woman in church clothes sits on a hospital bed, holding her sick baby on her lap. Other patients can be seen behind them.

© Nadia Todres

After only a few minutes’ drive, Widens has his own bed at SBH’s Emergency Care Center. Doctors believe he was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition in which nerve cells are missing from part of the large intestine, causing blockages and constipation.

A female clinician in scrubs and hospital mask examines a baby held in his worried mother’s arms. All are Haitian.

© Nadia Todres

The treatment for this condition is usually surgery to bypass or remove the abnormal section of the intestine. Widens is in good hands with our emergency care clinicians and team of pediatricians.

The air ambulance team poses, smiling, in front of their helicopter. A Black man in the middle is flanked by 2 light-skinned women with dark hair.

© Nadia Todres

After safely transporting Widens and Omenne, the Haiti Air Ambulance team is ready for their next flight.