MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The parents of a Haitian baby rescued from the rubble after January's devastating earthquake said Tuesday it was "a miracle" that their daughter survived, addressing reporters a day after their emotional reunion in the U.S.
Junior Alexis, 24, and Nadine Devilme, 23, hugged their baby Jenny during a news conference in Florida, where the 5-month-old girl was treated. Dressed in a pink outfit and white socks, Jenny was sleeping at first, but woke up and stared wide-eyed into the cameras as they shot footage of her on her mother's lap.
"I want to thank everybody, first all the doctors, all the lawyers, everyone that has helped because everything that has happened here has been a miracle," said Alexis, a hip-hop musician in Haiti who spoke through an interpreter. "Because if it wasn't for your help, we wouldn't be here and our baby Jenny wouldn't be alive today."
The family's ordeal began when Jenny and her mother were separated during the magnitude-7 earthquake. The mother said she wept when she thought her daughter had died.
But five days after the quake, the infant was pulled from the debris. She managed to survive in the rubble without nourishment, one of her doctors said, despite injuries that included a fractured skull and broken ribs.
"When she was first brought in she was near death," said Arthur Fournier, the professor of family medicine at the University of Miami who led the team that cared for the infant. "The first miracle was that she had the heart, the courage, to survive by herself for five days on her own."
She was taken to the U.S. for treatment of the injuries.
Her parents eventually learned their baby had been rescued and began searching for her. A DNA test proved they were the parents, and the family was reunited in an emotional meeting Monday.
"We've been through a lot. I just want her to be alive and well," said Devilme, who held Jenny throughout the conference.
Alexis read from a prepared statement in Haitian Creole, saying the couple has been unable to sleep since their reunion with their daughter.
Bob Martinez, the attorney for Jenny's parents, also teared up during the news conference. He said the couple has received a one-year humanitarian visa from the U.S. government. The infant has received a two-year visa.
The International Rescue Committee will help the family move into a furnished apartment and will provide food, clothing, household supplies, financial assistance and other services.
"I am just happy, happy, happy," Devilme said after the news conference at His House Children's Home, an agency that aids at-risk children both from the U.S. and orphaned children arriving from Haiti. The family is staying at the facility until they have a permanent residence. "It's a glory and a miracle."