Local News

Haitian burn victim reflects on year of survival

Posted January 12, 2011 8:10 p.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2011 6:57 a.m. EST

— One year after an earthquake devastate his home country, Eric Louis reflected on the tragedy that nearly cost him his life. 

Louis, a construction worker, was next to a gas station that exploded when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. A third of his body had second- and third-degree burns, particularly his head, hands, back and toes.

"Today is really a day of sadness for me. This is the day for me, I was near death," Louis said Wednesday. He spoke with the help of a translator – a new friend and church pastor, who helped Louis and his wife start over in the Triangle.

After the gas station exploded, Louis' wife, Yvita, found him and carried him 10 miles through the rubble to a hospital, but there were no doctors there. She took him home and cared for him for four days until Dr. Chris Sawyer, part of a medical mission team from Knoxville, Tenn., arranged for him to be airlifted to the U.S.

Louis arrived at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill two weeks after the earthquake. He underwent six major surgeries, including four skin grafts.

Louis was released from the hospital in June. 

"I've still got some pains. It is not completely healed," Louis said. 

"The only thing we have is some pains in our heart, but at the same time, I have some joy too because my husband is alive," Yvita Louis said. 

The couple now attend a Raleigh church, but hope to return to Haiti one day to be with their four children, who they have not seen since the earthquake.