Thursday, March 15, 2007

Maxime Petion (1985--2007)

Maxime Petion [1985-2007]
January 9th, 2007 by
Dr. John A. Carroll

Jeanette Johnson, Maxime’s host mother when he was operated on in Peoria, and some other “Maxime supporters” called me today to let me know that Maxime died this morning at Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

When I took Maxime to the airport in Port-au-Prince in mid-December, we got out of the truck and Maxime hugged his older brother Jean Marcel and cried as he said goodbye. Maxime’s brother acted as his father for many years. Jean-Marcel got back in the truck as we stood on the sidewalk. Maxime waved at him as he sobbed and we walked into the airport. What made me feel the worst for some reason, was that Maxime waved like an old man, not the 21 year old that he was.

Maxime would fly to the United States with a paramedic friend of mine who has done much work in Haiti. I was very worried about putting Maxime on the plane knowing that the loss of barometric pressure would occur. But we had to get him out of Haiti. This would be Maxime’s last chance. Haiti had nothing to offer him. I hoped and prayed all day that his young oxygen transfer system would keep him alive at 33,000 feet.

It did.

Maxime did well on the way to Cleveland except for the overnight stay in Dallas due to the snowstorm that hit the plains. Maxime’s English had slipped some in the last few years, so my wife had a note written in English tied around Maxime’s neck, held with dental floss. The note explained who he was, where he was going, and that he had a bad heart.

It worked. He made it a day late, but a missionary friend of ours in Cleveland was at the airport waiting for him when he landed. She is fluent in Haitian Creole which made Maxime’s welcome very comfortable for both of them.

Maxime was treated like a king the last few weeks of his life. The Johnsons, the Cleveland people, and Cleveland Clinic Foundation did all they could for Maxime. He was able to talk with Jean-Marcel a couple of times. Jeanette said they spoke loudly and were laughing which made everyone feel good.

Early this morning, Maxime’s heart unexpectedly slowed and stopped and he underwent everything possible to revive him, including circulating his blood through a machine to provide more oxygen. Nothing worked and Maxime and all his dignity are gone.

The people in Cleveland told me that he had touched many people during the weeks he had been there. Maxime’s personality in Cleveland was just like it had been in Peoria. He was kind, gentle, and intelligent.

Jeanette Johnson told me on the phone that they want to take Maxime’s body back to central Illinois for a proper burial in a spot that can be seen from their home.

I called Jean-Marcel this afternoon and notified him about his little brother’s death. I told him how sorry I was. Like Maxime, his dignity knows no bounds. I asked him if it was OK to bury Maxime close to the Johnsons in the United States. He agreed.

Jean-Marcel only asked one thing today. He wanted to know if he could come to Maxime’s funeral in Illinois. I told him that I did not know and would check into it and that we would talk again tomorrow.

Obtaining a travel visa for a Haitian can be very difficult, even when all they want to do is say goodbye to their brother.
John A. Carroll, M.D.

Jeanette Johnson Says: January 9th, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Dear Dr. John,

Thank you for the wonderful post on behalf of Maxime. Thank you, John and Maria for your compassionate and gentle ministry to Maxime, and his family. You and God were the only lifelines Maxime had in order to get to the states and be accepted by Cleveland Clinic.

The medical care Maxime received in Peoria was excellent. The medical care Maxime received in Cleveland was excellent. Maxime touch and changed so many lives in his short life here. I can’t tell you how devastated the medical team here in Cleveland is, as we all are. I’m sure there will be devastation among many medical personnel and friends in Peoria who were equally touched by Maxime.

I have talked to Maxime’s Pastor twice tonight. He is a very humble and non-assuming man with what appears to be a great deal of integrity and love for the Lord.
We are making arrangements and are hoping to delay the services until January 27th to allow Maxime’s family a greater window of time in order to make it to the states. Perhaps then Becky can also make arrangements to be present.

We are working through Masons, Germantown Chapel from the Peoria side.

Mary and I plan to visit the unit tomorrow. I’m renting a car and will drive home tomorrow. I’d rather drive than fly and risk missing connections in Chicago, or hsving to run from gate to gate to make the flight. Plus I have Maxime’s personal belongings to bring home also.

Eyebrows, do you think you can finish the hand knit cap? I appreciate your posts offering to send the cap. Max had a rather small build and head. When Mary, the Ohio host mom and I went to retrieve maxime’s belongings from the house, Max stayed at before his hospitalization, she showed me the winter coat and gloves he wore inside the house and gave me the cap he constantly wore. Before the casket closes, we would be honored to have Max wear your cap, if you think you can finish it on time.

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