Suburban teen on mission to become a doctor
By Donna Vickroy email@example.com February 17, 2012 11:34PM
Joshua Male (center), a North Central College student, plays with children who live in the area of Port-au-Prince. The slum is one of the poorest and most dangerous in the world. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
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When the doctors who rescued a dying woman from the side of the road near Titanyen burial ground brought her to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment, the Haitian nurses wouldn’t go near her.
But Joshua Male did.
The 19-year-old sophomore at North Central College in Naperville was in Haiti at his mother’s request. Male wants to be a doctor, more specific, a mission doctor.
But before he applies for internships in the Third-World country, his mother wanted him to make certain he knew what he was getting into. She contacted John Shattuck, who runs his own appraisal business. A mortgage underwriter for American Midwest Bank, Male’s mom knew Shattuck regularly visited the country. She knew he could give her son an accurate glimpse into life there.
Male says he has wanted to become a doctor since he was in sixth grade and had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix.
In December, he spent eight days in Haiti with Mission of Hope, where he gained experience painting houses, clearing trash from streets and comforting patients in a prosthetic lab.
He asked Shattuck to bring him along on this current trip, this time to gain more medical experience and see more of the country.
Male figures training in emergency medicine will best prepare him for the extreme circumstances he is likely to encounter in his chosen field.
“I figure Haitian clinics see the worst of the worst,” he said.
This one certainly did that day.
The woman, named only “Irene,” was found lying naked and emaciated. She was still able to communicate, although those in attendance had difficulty understanding her. She was dehydrated, delirious and very sick.
Ultimately, the diagnosis was pressure ulcers that had become so infected, they were crawling with maggots.
“You could see clear through to her pelvic bone,” Male said. “One of the ER doctors told me of the top 10 worst cases he’s seen in the ER, three happened in Haiti. This woman was No. 2.”
Male stayed and helped the doctors for five more hours. When he left, he found maggots in his shoes.
The experience would have crushed a casual onlooker, but Male said it only strengthened his resolve.
“Now, I’m really sure this is what I want to do,” he said.