An Update on Renelson

Renelson is a teenager from Port-au-Prince who nearly died when scar tissue from tuberculosis treatment blocked his throat. You might remember seeing his story before when he was just out of the hospital. Now we’re happy to provide an update on this incredible, resilient kid!

Flashback to Winter 2018: Renelson was starving to death, with scar tissue nearly blocking his throat. It was impossible for him to eat solid foods, and he was quickly losing the ability to even swallow liquids. He was slowly starving to death, and his family searched all over Port-au-Prince for a hospital that could help him.

His mother Renette had nearly lost hope. She was at church one Sunday, praying for her son who was getting weaker and weaker, when a man noticed her tears and asked her what was wrong. That chance conversation led to her learning about SBH, and she and Renelson left the next morning on the four-hour journey from their home to Fond des Blancs, to find out if he could get the lifesaving surgery he needed here. Thanks to your ongoing support of our surgical program and SBH’s high-quality care, he did.

A young Haitian boy sits on a hospital bed and smiles. His mother stands next to him, with her arm around his shoulder.

Renelson and Renette at SBH after Renelson’s life-saving surgery to remove scar tissue from his throat and allow him to eat and drink normally again.

Now, we’re thrilled to have an update on how Renelson has been doing since he returned home.

True to his fighting spirit, Renelson was not about to waste time when he got home in April. He was determined to go back to school as quickly as possible, so he could catch up on the time he missed. After his three-month stay at the hospital and much longer illness, many of Renelson’s friends thought they would never see him again. So, when he arrived back at school on the first day, his friends and classmates were thrilled to see him. So thrilled that they leaped to their feet and cheered his return!

A few weeks later, Renelson showed his determination and resilience again by acing his end-of-year exams. He has worked so hard that he’s on track to finish secondary school on time, despite having missed over half of the last school year.

Looking back on his experiences, Renelson remembers how much he suffered as his throat was slowly closing up. After having been so sick with tuberculosis, he thought he would never recover.

I remember sitting with my family at meal times, and they would all be eating. But I couldn’t eat, even though I was so hungry. I couldn’t swallow anything, so I just had to watch my family eat without me. I thought I would die like that.


Renelson would have died without the high-quality care you make possible at SBH. Now, instead of being yet another life lost needlessly, Renelson is thriving.