Ralph-Mary Gedeon, 23, was attending classes at a Port-au-Prince engineering school on January 12 when his school collapsed in the earthquake, burying him alive. His father, Raphael Gedeon, rushed to the school and frantically climbed through the mountains of fallen building, calling his son’s name over and over until he heard Ralph-Mary crying out from the rubble. For hours, Raphael used his hands to try to dig Ralph out. Unable to move the heavy debris, he ran for help from friends and together they dug through the concrete, metal and dust. Not until a day and a half later did they finally reach Ralph.
Seriously injured and his left leg crushed, they took him to General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where he met Ayal Lindeman.
A licensed practical nurse, emergency medical technician and Scientology Volunteer Minister trained in disaster relief, Lindeman had arrived in Haiti just days after the quake, on a Scientology-sponsored flight. One of the first transport planes allowed into the country, it brought more than 100 Haitian doctors, nurses and EMTs and a support corps of Volunteer Ministers to assist them in providing medical care. Because of his training, Lindeman was assigned to head the organization of the intensive care unit of General Hospital.
Facing the worst conditions he had ever encountered, this veteran of 9/11 Ground Zero rescue operations, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and other worst-case disasters, Lindeman pulled together a team of medical professionals and Scientology Volunteer Ministers and started cleaning up the wards and organizing supply lines and prioritizing patient care for the overworked doctors. While the doctors were battling to save lives in primitive operating rooms, Lindeman and his team attended to patients lying on bare mattresses soiled with body waste and blood, some who had gone days without food or water.
Lindeman noticed Ralph-Mary Gedeon and his father Raphael who never left his side but could do little to ease the excruciating pain of his son’s oozing leg wound. Lindeman knew that even the massive doses of antibiotics Ralph was taking would not save his leg. His kidneys were failing. Only amputating the leg would save the man’s life.
But being an amputee in Haiti meant living life as an outcast. He would not be able to finish his engineering degree. He would be dependent on others the rest of his life. Ralph-Mary said he would rather die.
Lindeman, noticing the great love of the father, told Ralph, “You have to live a long life because some day your dad is going to need you the way he is here for you.” He promised Ralph that if he went through with the surgery, he would personally see to it that he got a prosthetic leg and the physical and occupational therapy he would need to live a normal life. Ralph went through with the operation—a mid-thigh amputation.
To keep his word, Lindeman contacted an old high school track teammate, Dr. Ralph Gibson, an orthopedic surgeon who teaches at Yale University and practices at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven. Dr. Gibson agreed to take on the case. The Hospital of Saint Raphael agreed to cover his hospital stay.
Lindeman then contacted the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT)/Airlink which arranged with the owner of a private jet to bring Ralph to the United States. He also obtained a medical visa for him. Today Lindeman and Gedeon arrive in Connecticut. American Medical Response (AMR) will provide an ambulance from Tweed Airport in New Haven to the hospital.
Ayal Lindeman is living the motto of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Corps: “Something can be done about it.”
The Scientology Volunteer Ministers Corps is an embracive program of the Church of Scientology to provide community service, disaster relief and emergency response. Created more than 30 years ago by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, the program has expanded to more than 200,000 Volunteer Ministers worldwide.