EDITOR’S NOTE: At the end of each year, the Daily Times-Call updates readers with its “Where Are They Now” series, which revisits notable area newsmakers and finds out how they’re faring. Through Jan. 2, Times-Call staff writers will bring you stories and vignettes about people, animals and even a Pluto-bound spacecraft featured on our pages over the past year.
LONGMONT — Baby Jomany “Darla” Lauture left her Haitian fishing village last March with a cleft palate and lip and a silver St. Christopher medal — a talisman her impoverished parents pinned to her clothes for protection.
Children’s Medical Missions West, an Ohio-based nonprofit, placed the 6-month-old with Longmont Salud Family Health Center’s Dr. Gary Pearson and his family. Longmont plastic surgeon Dr. Raj TerKonda volunteered to repair the birth defects.
However, doctors almost immediately tabled the cosmetic surgery when they discovered a rare heart defect that would have been fatal if left untreated.
An outpouring of charity helped cover the cost of the complicated, unanticipated surgery, along with the originally scheduled cosmetic surgeries. The baby finally headed home healthy last summer.
The Pearsons expected status updates after their farewells.
“When that didn’t happen, we thought, ‘No news is good news,’” said Darla’s foster mom, Mary Pearson, 43.
Instead, they discovered Darla had contracted pneumonia in September, which frightened Darla’s biological mother enough to re-establish ties with the Longmont family through the American nonprofit agency.
“She ... wanted to know if we would have her live with us,” Pearson said.
The Pearsons have five children, ranging in age from 9 to 16, and also have temporary custody of another Haitian baby here for medical care.
“But we prayed about it, and we said, ‘Yes, our door is open,’” Pearson said of the family's availability to care for Darla in the event of another medical crisis.
Ultimately, Darla recovered without making a second trip to the U.S. and lives with her biological parents.