Wife of Haitian burn patient recalls journey to N.C.

Posted January 27, 2010 12:06 p.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2010 4:10 p.m. EST

— Evita Louis, 61, carried her severely burned husband, Eric, 10 miles to their home after he was severely burned in a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12.

She spent seven days caring for him with just water and Vaseline at home. Eric Louis, 48, was eventually transported to Florida for treatment. On Tuesday, he was among four burn patients from Haiti to be transported to North Carolina.

Louis and two others are being treated at North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. His wife traveled to Chapel Hill with him.

Louis speaks Creole and with the help of translator Lionel Giordani, she explained what happened to her husband to WRAL News.

"Her husband came from work...when he reached the gas station, the earthquake happened. Then, the gas station exploded, and all the flames got into his car," Giordani said. "The car is completely engulfed in flames."

Evita Louis found her husband at a local hospital in Haiti. There were no doctors there, so she carried her husband home.

"She actually was scared because her husband was actually burned very badly. She didn't know if her husband was going to make it or not," Giordani said.

She treated him for a week until she saw a group of people from the Dominican Republic. The group agreed to bring her and her husband back to the Dominican Republic with them.

Doctors say Eric Louis suffered second- and third-degree burns over most of his body.

"He has a third-degree burn that involves his entire scalp. He has a second-degree burn that involves his entire face," said Dr. Bruce Cairns, medical director of the Jaycee Burn Center.

He is facing several skin graft operations and likely will be at UNC for at least six more weeks, according to physicians.

Evita Louis said she has grown three children – two children with Eric and another from a previous relationship – and one adult grandchild that are still wandering the streets of Haiti. She has been unable to make contact with them.