Chicago, IL – On Sunday, medical student Max Herby Derenoncourt of Université Notre Dame d’Haïti presented his scientific research at the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Annual Medical Student Program. According to the ACS, he is the first Haitian medical student selected to do so.
Looking back over several years of records, ACS administrator Nicole Laroco reports that the organization has “not had a medical student from Haiti submit an abstract or present a poster.”
After hearing the news, Derenoncourt explains he “felt very humbled.”
Derenoncourt’s research focuses on the ability to perform surgery in Haiti in the years after the 2010 earthquake. The results emphasize the benefits of long-term partnerships between local hospitals and international surgical volunteers.
“Consistent support from relief organizations helped increase Haiti’s surgical capacity,” Derenoncourt explained. “After a few years, this became especially true for subspecialties like pediatric surgery and urology.”
Performing scientific research in the developing world can be particularly challenging. According to Derenoncourt, “medical training in Haiti is clinically-oriented, and resources are limited.” He explained that to abstract data, he and classmate Alain Rodnez painstakingly reviewed more than three thousand handwritten medical charts.
Guiding the team through their research, Gerard A. Baltazar DO FACOS, a surgeon from St.Barnabas Hospital in New York City applauds Derenoncourt’s achievement and recommends more surgeons dedicate time to volunteering.
“I’m incredibly proud of Max,” Dr. Baltazar explained. “He shows how global surgery programs are great on many levels. Locals receive services and opportunities they might not otherwise have, and in exchange, volunteers feel energized about practicing medicine.”
Responses to Derenoncourt’s presentation were enthusiastic. Surgeons from the Haitian community were particularly excited to see their country represented.
“One graduate of my medical school kept saying how surprised and happy he was to see [his alma mater] represented,” Derenoncourt explained.
Derenoncourt’s research may have implications beyond the Haiti earthquake and recommends “increased focus and resource-allocation for long-term surgical relief efforts after a large and devastating natural disaster.”
Despite being selected from among hundreds of applicants, Derenoncourt keeps focused on the effect his success may have on others.
“Haiti is an amazing place with lots of great doctors, scientists and students,” he said. “I am honored to represent the country in a small way and hope to inspire others to do the same.”