Injured Haitian moved to rehab

Wilner Pierre shows his range of motion to Jeff orthopedic surgeon Greg Gebauer. Cardiac nurse Melissa Martelly interprets for the doctor.

Wilner Pierre, the young Haitian man treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in January for spinal injuries suffered during the Jan. 12 earthquake, was transferred to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Center City today at 11 a.m.

Pierre, 29, spent over two weeks being jostled from hospital to hospital before anyone realized his back was broken. With the help of American doctors caring for injured people from the quake at a hospital in Jacmel, Haiti, Pierre was finally flow to the United States. He arrived on January 29 and was operated on the next day by spine surgeon Alex Vaccaro.

Pierre’s injuries were soon on the mend, but serious infections and blood clots kept him in intensive care at Jefferson. But now Vaccaro said, “he turned the corner.”

And he was pleased that Pierre was going to Magee where the staff will work to help him regain the use of his legs. “People can make dramatic improvements in rehab,” Vaccaro said. Still, it will be another six weeks before the surgeon has a good sense of whether Pierre will regain the use of his legs or remain paralyzed.

Here is my story on Pierre’s journey to the U.S. for care and the effort by Vaccaro and others at Jefferson to treat his injuries.