Local News

Haiti quake victim to leave Chapel Hill burn center

Posted May 26, 2010

— Four-and-a-half months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, the last survivor will soon be released from the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

Eric Louis, a construction worker, arrived at the burn center two weeks after the Jan. 12 earthquake. He was covered in second- and third-degree burns on his head, hands, back and toes.

It had taken the strength of his wife and the help of strangers to get him that far.

Eric Louis, Haiti earthquake, burn victim Haiti quake victim recovers at N.C. burn center

Louis said he was driving home past a gas station in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck.

"The gas station exploded, and the car also caught on fire," Louis said, speaking through a Creole translator. "He said he was walking over dead people."

Louis' wife, Yvita, found him. She carried him 10 miles through the rubble to the hospital, but there, she said, the scene was only worse.

"On the ground, on the floor of the hospital, people were dying; people were yelling and screaming," the translator said for Yvita Louis. "She said all she found was a piece of plywood, and that was the bed where she put her husband on."

There were no doctors at the hospital, so Yvita brought her husband home. He spent four days without medical treatment, with only the care of his wife.

The couple was found by Dr. Chris Sawyer, part of a medical mission team from Knoxville, Tenn. Sawyer dressed Louis' burns, gave him morphine and antibiotics, and arranged for him to be airlifted to the U.S.

Louis and his wife ended up at the Jaycee Burn Center. When they arrived, they were still wearing the same clothes they had on the day the earthquake hit.

He has spent four months undergoing treatments, including multiple skin grafts. But the treatments were successful, and he will leave the hospital in a couple days.

Louis and his wife will stay with Haitian-Americans in the Triangle while he continues his recovery.

"He's alive. How would feel seeing this, that you were part of the miracle from Haiti? It's tremendous," Sawyer said.


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  • Goalieman May 26, 2010

    I am glad we could help as much as we did but we have other issues pending right now that need more attention. We have the oil spill that we will be taxed to clean up. We have a possible war starting between North and South Korea. We have Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq.

    It's time to focus on National problems!

  • ccs1920 May 26, 2010

    I'm pleased that these people received the care that they needed. Now fly them back to Haiti.

  • bigredtruckman May 26, 2010

    I am in such great admiration of his wife for carrying him for all that distance and taking care of him through what was undoubtedly unimagniable suffering. She is a very strong and dedicated wife!

  • speakup May 26, 2010

    wcumom - Your comments are disgusting.

  • babbleon May 26, 2010

    True love, man, true love. Good luck to them.

  • prayin4tr May 26, 2010

    I was reading through the related story : Wife of Haitian burn patient recalls journey to N.C. just yesterday. Awesome story!

  • Whatever Geez May 26, 2010

    oh my goodness.....

  • CarolinaGirl2 May 26, 2010

    Wow, just awesome!

  • newwake May 26, 2010

    There are not many people in this country that would be able to do what his wife did for him. Such a strong person. All I'm saying is that most people who think they are "enduring" hard times really have no clue.

  • Retired07 May 26, 2010

    The strength of this dedicated wife is awesome! Few couples have this kind of bond. God bless them both.