Update on Haitian Donkey

Dear All:


A quick update for those of you who have been waiting on word of the Haitian Donkey’s hospital stay. After having been in surgery roughly 8 hours, his surgical team finished their work. They reported that they had done what they had hoped, and sent him to the ICU. They have cleared large sections of tumour and repaired some of the damage and blockages that were making life difficult for him.


Now the big work begins for the Donkey. Because of Covid, unlike his last surgeries, the Donkey will be alone for all but 3 hours a day in the hospital, trying to recover from this massive shock to his system, get through the pain and let his body heal enough to be cleared to leave. This is a task that will take time and strength, so I am sure he will appreciate knowing he is in your prayers. We will keep you updated as we can.


Rachel for Bill et al

The Haitian Donkey Leaves for Pittsburgh to Try Surgery Again

Hi All:
On Wednesday, the 7th, we had a visit with both Dr. Bartlett (that was a last minute add on but welcome, as he is the most experienced at this, likely one of 3 people in the world who have done this many cases and have done well) and his partner at her office.  He happened to be in the hospital on administrative work for the cancer team, something he may do, just not see patients and do surgeries as the primary doctor.  He feels that my abdomen is soft and thus is hopeful of being able to give me relief of the nausea and vomiting and also some of the tumor burden with the surgery.  Gord and Margie took me and were very impressed with their kindness, thoroughness, and care, so we all feel more comfortable with the procedure.  He did say that he felt the risk of complications, including death, was higher than the 5% mortality rate with the previous three operations, more likely 15%, a bit daunting.


So, will leave Tuesday morning (the 13th) and get my brother Will and I settled into the Family house, go early on Wednesday to have all the preop evaluations done and hopefully get cleared for surgery and then they will begin early on Thursday.  Please pray that the operation will go well, likely 12 hrs or so again, and that complications, especially infections and intestinal leakages, will not occur or be minimal and allow me to recover well and return home again soon.  Will will do his best to keep you all updated, the exact specifics still have to be settled as he lives in Wisconsin but we will do our best.


As always, thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement as the Haitian Donkey enters this new phase in his life.  May everything be done well and to His glory.


In Him,

James, Jenn, Rachel and Bill

The Haitian Donkey Considers Another Huge Surgery

Hi All:

In the last letter, the Donkey explained that his bowels are blocked, nothing comes through and the normal intestinal juices, about 1.5 quarts daily, go in the reverse direction and are vomited daily.  This has shown no signs of letting up but I am relatively stable otherwise.  I originally had called Dr. Bartlett to see if he thought radiation might help shrink the tumors, both he and Dr. De Cook thought this might, but radiation specialists by and large have been reluctant to try this, including those in our area.  When the obstruction showed up, I called him again and sent him the latest CD of my CT scan.  He reviewed it and thought he might be able to help me get some relief with a 4th exploration.  As he has been there 3 times before, he knows the difficulties likely he will encounter but thought it was worth a shot.

I obtained cardiac clearance a couple days ago and will go on Wednesday, the 7th, to see his partner in Pittsburgh at a new hospital (to us), Allegheny General Hospital, the consortium he has switched to and is the head of the entire cancer department, I think there are 7 or so hospitals involved.  As this location is too close to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, his partner will be the official surgeon but he will be one of the 4 on the team and assures me things will be no different than before.  If she feels the large hole in my abdomen through which now just tumor protrudes is closeable, etc, we are scheduled to return to Pittsburgh on the 13th for preop testing, blood typing and crossmatching, etc on the 14th and surgery on the 15th.  

Since it does not appear that Allegheny General will relax it’s rules and allow switching to a new caregiver after a week or so, my nurse brother, Will, will take that role, as he is retired and his family can keep his farm going in his absence.  Needless to say, he is a great answer to prayer for wisdom as we carefully seek the Lord’s will concerning this major step in my care.  The Covid rules still only allow him to see me from either 9-12 am or 5-8 pm daily and the family house he will stay in is the same as the one we had before, across from UPMC. They only have 3 houses scattered throughout the city and none near Allegheny General.  Due to Covid, the shuttle is not running but they will arrange Uber to get back and forth.   

Needless to say, this is a major decision for the Donkey, but the obstruction doesn’t seem to let up, the protruding tumor continues to enlarge and make care difficult and smelly, so this seems a reasonable, though risky, solution.  We would greatly appreciate prayer for God’s guidance through the remainder of this pre procedure evaluation and the surgery itself and recovery, if that is the way He chooses to lead us.  

The Haiti Team filled and sent a 40 foot container on Friday, October 2 with building and medical supplies and it is on it’s way with equipment for the teams coming later in the year.  I am very thankful that we were able to obtain a fair number of general surgical and orthopedic tools from an organization in Pittsburgh that hopefully will keep the surgical department going for years to come.  The tools are especially useful as so much of surgery is being done laparoscopically and thus the open tools are much less available.  Continue to pray that we will get more funding for the solar project as this would ensure reliable, 24/7 electricity (maybe with a couple hour generator boost daily for Xrays and the washing machine) in the midst of the continual political upheaval and uncertainty.  Rumors have it that the government has mandated an almost 50% increase in minimum wage, understandable with the runaway inflation, but where do they expect the funds to come from?  We may have to increase charges for services some, but that is only a limited solution as the patients don’t have increased funds. 

We would appreciate prayer for His wisdom for the Donkey’s surgical situation and the hospital construction, maintenance and financial organization.  Thanks to all you who so faithfully support us in these endeavors for our Lord at Centre de Sante Lumiere.

In His Service,

Dan, Duane, James, Jenn, Rachel and Bill

The Haitian Donkey is back in the Hospital


This is Bill’s son James sending this message to all of the prayer warriors for Dad. We wanted to let you know that my wife Jenn took him back to St. Mary’s hospital early this morning. He has a fever that has spiked as high as 103, likely from another infection. Pray that the hospital staff will be able to get his temperature down, and get him stable again. His condition does seem to be quite serious, but it is a little early to say how much so. We will update you as to any significant changes. If you do have any questions, I will try to monitor Dad’s email and reply if possible. Pray also for Jenn as she is the only one currently allowed at the hospital. 

We appreciate the support all of you have given to the Haiti mission, and to our family, over the years, and look forward to that work continuing far into the future.

God bless,

James for Dr. Bill, Jenn, Rachel, and our dear friend Tabitha

The Haitian Donkey Faces A Fork In The Road Again

Hi All:

Since I last updated the situations, the protruding tumors out of my ostomy site have continued to grow, making it a struggle to contain them and the intestinal output the colostomy and ileostomy contribute to the bag.  We have looked into various options, they make larger bags, but they don’t have fasteners on them as the ones I presently use have loops that I can attach a belt to and thus encourage sticking to my skin.  The larger bags are made for patients who are pretty much bedridden for the time, so we are still looking into options.  

One thought I had was to consider radiation therapy, somewhat risky for intestinal tumors as the intestines, bladder and lungs are especially sensitive to the radiation, while the tumors may not be.  I thought I would contact Dr. Bartlett at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as he has done over 1000 of these surgeries and likely had some experience to comment on.  I called his nurse, the recording mentioned to push various buttons for a number of different surgeons, but no Bartlett.  Searching on the internet showed that, after 19 years at University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Bartlett had been enticed by the other powerhouse in the Pittsburgh medical realm, Allegheny General Hospital System, a promotion to head up all their cancer research and work 3 months ago.  The internet stated that he would be busy with administrative duties for several months and then restart clinical practice and research.  The donkey decided that my chances for getting through to him in a new, unfamiliar system would be unlikely. Dr. De Cook thought that radiation might help shrink the growths sticking out of my abdomen and give us some relief in the way of controlling the output.  I made an appt with a radiation oncologist and saw him last Thursday.  He was very nice (I knew him a bit from surgical residency, he is 75 but loves his work and thus still doing it), examined me well, but finally felt that he figured he would do more harm than good.  

With this news, Rachel decided the donkey gave up too easily and contacted Allegheny General and was able to connect with Dr. Bartlett’s new nurse navigator.  The nurse promised that she would have Dr. Bartlett call me this week when he returned from vacation.  I was skeptical, but was amazed when he called me at 9 am this morning and we discussed options for a bit.  He wants a repeat CT scan sent to him, he will get my records from UPMC and consider the case.  One option he presented was to repeat the surgery he has done 3 times on me already, an extensive, 15 hr marathon with a lot of risk, needless to say.  It carries a greater than 5% mortality, as hours under anesthesia, lots of scar tissue, etc, make this a land mine infested territory to travel through.  However, I am not sure what reasonable options remain, other than just watching the tumors grow, leaking bags to try to control the outgoing intestinal contents and always smelling a bit off due to the situation.  

Dr. William called last weekend, he hopes to be done by August 31, though still has to write and defend his thesis by the end of the year.  Dr. Luke Channer has been helping him with getting access to information via the internet, as I am out of my element in that area.  Thus, I am excited about arriving at the end of this long struggle to be able to provide 24/7 surgical coverage for the hospital, our dream for the last 17 years.  He already has done an evangelistic campaign during the summer with a pastor and they have a group of about 60 new believers who are meeting under a borrowed tent until they can arrange for a bit more permanent accommodation.  I am excited that he and Dr. Moise do this in the summers and a new church is being formed in the area.  It will also be good to have him back home with his 5 active sons, undoubtedly a relief for his poor wife after all these years.  Pray for a good adjustment as he reintegrates back to the hospital.  Overall, the hospital seems to be functioning well, Covid doesn’t seem to have hit Haiti anywhere nearly as hard as it has been reported to strike the US and other countries, how to interpret that is unclear.  I have not been able to contact Dr. Moise since we talked on Saturday, so not sure how they survived the hurricane on Sunday yet.  

So, would appreciate prayer for wisdom for the Donkey as he considers the alternatives before us.  The huge repeat surgery would be risky and difficult, but I must admit I don’t enjoy much having the tumors on my belly either.  So, will get the repeat CT scan and see what Dr. Bartlett suggests and go from there.  As always, thanks so much for praying for us, supporting us in that way and so many other encouragements.  Will update you as we get more information.

In HIs Service,

Bill, Dan, Duane, James, Jenn and Rachel