Larry O’Reilly, an Irish American businessman from Springfield, Missouri, has made it possible for 15-year-old Hennglise Dorival, from Haiti, to have a massive four-pound benign tumor removed from her face.
O’Reilly first met the young girl during a 2011 trip to Haiti. The the vice chairman of O'Reilly Auto Parts, he was travelling to provide post-earthquake aid. They met while he was handing out supplies at her small Baptist school, in the village of Bahon. O’Reilly noted the growth on the child’s face and offered to help with a procedure to remove it.
He spoke with the school’s pastor and discovered she had never been to a doctor. O’Reilly made it his mission to help Dorival. He had the young girl flown to Port-au-Prince for an X-ray and consultation. Dorival was diagnosed with ameloblastoma, a rare, non cancerous tumor that often develops in the jaw near the molars. Although the tumor was noncancerous if left untreated they would have cut off circulation to Dorival’s vital organs.
The Irish American arranged for American surgeons to travel to Haiti to perform a 12-hour reconstructive surgery on the child. They believed the tumor had been removed and Dorival was left to recover. O’Reilly returned to the US.
One year later he went to visit Dorival again at her school.
He told Fox “We were there for a week, and the first person I wanted to see was Hennglise.
“And her face was swollen again. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what’s going on?' It looked like she had kind of been punched. And [the pastor] said, 'No, it's come back.'"
The tumor had not been entirely removed and had now returned to its former size and showed no signs of stopping.
The tumor had already damaged Dorival’s left eye and her jaw’s structure. The teenager had become a shut-in, staying indoors and wearing a scarf over her face if she had to be in public.
O’Reilly knew he had to get Dorival to the United States for treatment. This proved a difficult task as Dorival had no birth certificate or passport. Adding to the obstacles, American doctors were hesitant to perform the risky, delicate surgery.
O’Reilly said “I couldn't give up on her.
“I knew it would be fairly tragic for her if something didn't happen."
O'Reilly paid more than $120,000 in travel and medical expenses for Dorival to get surgery at the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. Her mother and two translators also made the trip.
Due to the work of Project H.O.P.E, an international health organization, O’Reilly was able to meet with Doctor William Magee from Operation Smile and his staff in the United States. The team operated on Dorival for 12 hours to remove the tumor and reconstruct her face.
Magee told Fox News “I came into the waiting room afterward, and her mom almost tackled me.
“She’s kind of stone faced and doesn’t express her emotions much, but after she saw a picture of her daughter, she almost knocked me over.”
The doctors told O’Reilly that help had come for Dorival just in time as the tumors were threatening to cut off the girl’s airway.
"He said she had a very limited time, maybe a week, maybe a month before it would have suffocated her," O'Reilly said. "She would have gone to sleep and not woken up."
Dorvial will require more surgery and the medical team home to restore her vision in the coming weeks. The teen and her mother will remain in the United State for six months to ensure she receives all the follow up care she needs.
O’Reilly is hopeful that more children like Dorival can get the help they need. He added “Hennglise has grabbed my heart forever."