GRIFFITH | Eighteen-month-old Rose Daphcar Calixte managed a brief but ravishing smile Thursday after nearly a day on planes from Haiti to Northwest Indiana.
The toddler's journey ultimately will deliver her into the hands of surgeons at The Community Hospital in Munster, who will operate to repair a congenital urological problem.
Rose arrived a little before 5 p.m. Thursday at the Griffith-Merrillville Airport in Griffith wearing a red dress and accompanied by her mother, Marie Lusette Celestine, both survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake that rocked Haiti.
Their journey was made possible through a team effort by doctors and Pastor Steve Munsey and other staff from the Family Christian Center in Munster.
Griffith-Merrillville Airport supplied the crew that flew a private plane round trip from Griffith to Miami, where an earlier plane had brought the young girl and her mother from Haiti, airport owner Paul Goldsmith said.
Rose and her family won over Munster-based surgeon Dr. Russell Pellar during an earlier weeklong stay in Haiti by a team of Community Hospital doctors and nurses.
"Her family brought her every day and asked us to 'please fix my child,'" Pellar said.
Pellar operated on Rose in Haiti but realized additional surgery in the United States was needed, he said.
Dr. Mohan Gundeti, pediatric specialist with Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago, and Dr. Gregory Bales, a specialist in urology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, will perform Rose's surgery, Pellar said.
"We knew if we could help one child it would be worth it," Pellar said.
Pellar and his family also will be hosting Rose and her mother during their stay in Northwest Indiana, including the days of preparation leading up to surgery and the weeks of recovery.
The complexities involved in bringing Rose to the U.S. were immense, Pellar said. But help came from all corners, including U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., and the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who helped obtain passports for the child and her mother.
The Family Christian Center picked up the cost of processing their visas and helped in other ways, Pellar said.
"I really appreciate what the church did," Pellar said. "They worked hard to make things happen."
The Community Hospital, which agreed to donate services to assist in Rose's care, said in a written release Thursday, "It is because of the compassion and generosity of our medical staff that we are able to bring hope and healing to this child as well as others who come through our doors."
An exact date for Rose's surgery has not been set.