Local News

Haiti burn victim recovering at Chapel Hill Burn Center

Posted May 1, 2010 7:51 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2010 6:45 a.m. EDT

— A survivor of the earthquake in Haiti is recovering from third-degree burns at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

Eric Louis, a construction worker, was at a gas station when the ground shook in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. The tremors triggered an explosion.

Louis spent four days without treatment. Dr. Chris Sawyer from Knoxville, Tenn., was part of a medical mission team that went to Haiti to help earthquake victims. Sawyer said someone got his attention and asked him to help Louis.

“We said, 'We can save this guy. If we get this guy out, we can save him,'” Sawyer recalled.

Sawyer said he made call after call trying to find help for Louis. Meanwhile, he dressed Louis' burns and gave him morphine and antibiotics.

Not once, Sawyer said, did Louis complain. A few days later, Louis was airlifted to the United States for treatment, but Sawyer did not know where.

“We didn't know if he lived, if he died, what happened,” Sawyer said.

Louis ended up at the Jaycee Burn Center. Doctors there give him a number of skin grafts.

Sawyer talked about meeting Louis to his wife. She then Googled Louis' name and found out he was in Chapel Hill.

The doctor said Saturday while meeting with Louis that he was thrilled to see his patient's progress.

“He’s alive!" Sawyer exclaimed. "How would you feel seeing this, that you were so part of the miracle from Haiti? It’s tremendous.”

Louis has about another month of therapy before being discharged from the burn center. He and his wife will then stay with Haitian-Americans in the area.