Scientology And Me

February 19, 2010

Scientology Volunteer makes good on promise to Haiti quake survivor

19 February 2010 – New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN — Ralph-Marie Gedeon could easily have died Jan. 12 in the earthquake in Haiti when the walls of his Port-au-Prince engineering college came tumbling down on top of him.

Gedeon, 22, who on Thursday night was airlifted to Tweed New Haven Regional Airport, could easily have been left for dead had his father, Raphael Gedeon, not gone looking for him, and then spent hours frantically climbing through the rubble, calling his son’s name until he heard him cry out. It took the elder Gedeon a day and a half to dig his son out.

When he and some friends finally reached Gedeon, they found his left leg was crushed.

He might have died soon afterward, too, when he initially refused to have his mangled leg amputated because, in Haiti, those without limbs are shunned.

Instead, he met Ayal Lindeman, a licensed practical nurse, emergency medical technician and Scientology volunteer minister who was in Haiti as a volunteer emergency worker in the critical care unit of General Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Lindeman, of Spring Valley, N.Y., convinced Gedeon to have the life-saving surgery, promising him a new leg, along with the physical and occupational therapy he would need, if he would agree.

More importantly, Lindeman happens to have a high school friend and former track teammate, Dr. David Gibson, who is an orthopedic surgeon who teaches at the Yale School of Medicine and is affiliated with the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven.

Lindeman told Gedeon about his friend the orthopedic surgeon in the United States, and promised that he would get Gedeon a prosthetic leg.

Then Lindeman called Gibson, who agreed to donate his work and time for the necessary surgeries. Gibson also arranged for St. Raphael’s to cover other medical treatment and physical and occupational therapy. Finally, working through a friend who heads a pediatric health care fund affiliated with the Foundation for Greater New Haven, Gibson got a manufacturer to donate the prosthesis.

Finally, the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading /Airlink, arranged for a private jet to bring Gedeon to the U.S.

Gedeon and Lindeman were due to arrive at Tweed late Thursday night or early today after being delayed in Florida.

“We’re going to work on his leg” in advance of attaching the prosthetic leg, Gibson said earlier Thursday, while Gedeon and Lindeman still were en route to Florida.

Gibson, 53, explained that “in Haiti, having an amputation is a horrible thing because you essentially are put at the side of the road” and ignored.

Lindeman stayed with Gedeon through the amputation surgery and one other operation on his remaining stump, Gibson said. Gideon “is coming up here with some work” that still needs to be done.

Gibson estimated that the artificial leg normally would cost between $10,000 and $15,000, and the surgery Gibson will perform normally costs “several tens of thousands of dollars” in addition.

He called Dr. Peter Lindskog, chairman of the board of a pediatric health care fund that Gibson also sits on, and asked if Gedeon’s case might qualify for assistance. Lindskog called a local vendor, New England Orthotics and Prosthetics of Branford, “and they said, ‘Fine, we’ll give it to you for free,’” Gibson said.

Gedeon will be in New Haven for “as long as it takes,” Gibson said. “I would estimate it would take a couple of months to get him tuned up and ready to rock back. The challenge is going to be to get him to the point where he’s ready to go back” and able to stay healthy even in a place where he won’t be able to get good health care.

“We pretty much need to make him bulletproof” before he returns, he said.

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