VIDEO: A new life begins for Haitian earthquake survivor

Eriek Louis was one of three burn survivors from the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti treated in the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center. After five months of care, he was discharged from the Burn Center last Thursday, June 3.


Sporting Carolina blue from head to toe, Louis met with local reporters June 3 to share his appreciation for all that UNC doctors, nurses, therapists, and others have done for him.  “I came in a dead man.  I am walking out alive,”  he said.

Eriek was the most severely injured of the four Haitian patients flown to North Carolina. He arrived suffering from burns to his face, head, back, and arms. During his time at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center, he has undergone six major surgeries; four of which consisted of taking skin from areas of his body to cover his wounds.

“Today is a joyous occasion and the next phase for Eriek Louis and his wife,” said Dr. Bruce Cairns, medical director of the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center. “When you have a tragedy that affects the entire world, everyone comes together to try to help. It means the world to us to see them go on with their lives. That’s what we’re here to do for everyone that comes through our doors.”

Eriek may have been discharged from UNC Hospitals, but he won’t go far. He will stay at the State Employees Credit Union Family House at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. “This entire experience has been priceless, ” said Dr. Sam Jones, assistant medical director of the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center.  “In light of all that they’ve been through, this family’s appreciation touches me to the core.”

Eriek will spend his coming days in physical and occupational therapy which will be a crucial part of his recovery. Dr. Cairns says until now it has been easy to see Louis’s improvements, but moving forward improvements won’t be as obvious.

Still, both Eriek and his wife, Yvita, continually thank God, the local Haitian community and UNC Hospitals staff for helping to give him new life. It is something they say they are not likely to ever forget; and neither will Dr. Cairns and his staff. “Their appreciation is heartfelt. We are here to serve,” said Grace Schmits, the burn center’s nurse manager. 

Dr. Cairns added, “Anyone who comes through the doors of the Burn Center is a member of our family forever.”

This was originally posted on the UNC Health Care blog.