Herminie Eyma Pedro Medina

In July 2003, Herminie Eyma Pedro Medina was walking out of a restaurant in her native Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when a car pulled up near her and someone inside fired a bullet in her direction. Hit in the left arm, she immediately fell to the ground.

“I didn’t know what was happening,” recalled Herminie, now 63. “Everything happened so quickly.”

However after she was rushed to a nearby hospital it was determined that the bullet did extensive damage. It had fractured multiple ribs, hit her spinal cord, and damaged her lungs.

“I had no feeling from the chest down,” said Herminie, an obstetrician/gynecologist with extensive medical training. “I was told that it was a life or death situation.”

“I was so impressed with everyone who worked there and the impact that they had on patients. I wanted to give back to Jackson what I had received from the hospital.”

Herminie Eyma Pedro Medina

In order for Herminie to survive, she needed more advanced care that was not available in Haiti. Her best chance at survival was in the United States at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Three days after the shooting, she was flown to Jackson’s Ryder Trauma Center, where she was seen by UHealth – University of Miami Health System neurosurgeon, Barth A. Green, MD, who is world-renowned for treating patients with spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Green performed a laminectomy, a surgery that removes the part of the vertebra called the lamina, taking pressure off nerves in the low back.

After recovering in intensive care, Herminie was moved to Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital for intense physical and occupational therapy. She recalls having to learn how to eat on her own, sit, use the bathroom, and do transfers from her wheelchair into a bed and car.

“I had to learn to do everything again – except think,” she said. “My brain and my heart were still intact.”

For her part, Herminie gained an appreciation for the life-changing work performed by the caregivers.

Herminie was looking forward to returning to Haiti, but her plans were derailed when she suffered another major health crisis brain hemorrhage. Once again, she says, her life was saved at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“With God first – and Jackson – saved my life twice,” Herminie said.

Herminie is now volunteering in the outpatient physical therapy gym at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, where she helps with filing, answering phones, and calling patients to confirm appointments. Because she speaks five languages – Creole, English, French, Spanish, and German – she is able to communicate with many of the patients.

She hopes to continue volunteering at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, and move into a role as a peer mentor for patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries – and any other patient who needs support and motivation.

“I would like to continue my efforts to excel in my professional field, medicine, with the goal of helping those who are suffering,” Herminie said. “I am confident that I will be making a difference in the lives of a larger group.”