By Maxwell Rotbart
Christmas came early this year for John “Little John” Olivier, age 9, who was inflicted with a life-threatening oral tumor. The Haitian boy, who had the growth since at least 2013, was at risk of suffocation when Barclay Stuart, a Christian missionary, met Little John and his family on a church trip last year.
Mr. Stuart, who lives in Brighton, CO, 23 miles north of Denver, made a pact with God. As he told Fox News: “I told God that I obviously can’t do this on my own and that if He helped Little John, that I would humbly serve and do whatever He asked of me.”
Mr. Stuart was waiting for his flight in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, when by chance – or was it? – he encountered members of Medical Aid to Haiti, a humanitarian group on its own mission.
“We have a boy that needs a miracle!” Stuart explained to one member. “Well, we do miracles!” came the reply, as reported by Fox News and other news outlets.
In this case, their miracle worker turned out to be 63-year-old Dr. Stuart Lieblich, an oral surgeon from Avon, CT.
Dr. Lieblich, who is Jewish, agreed to operate on Little John pro bono, as did the anesthetist and other surgical team members affiliated with Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery.
During the procedure, Dr. Lieblich removed two-thirds of Little John’s lower jaw, using bone from the young boy’s hip to build his jaw back to its normal contour. When Little John is older, the team plans to provide him with dental implants.
“This was a situation that could not be treated in Haiti,” Dr. Lieblich told Fox News, adding that he felt privileged to be able to help.
Mr. Stuart’s church, the Calvary Chapel Brighton, embarked on a $10,000 fundraising campaign to bring Little John and his father to the United States for the surgery.
The Compassionate Care Fund at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center covered additional costs associated with the actual procedure.
When Little John and his father arrived in the United States last month for their 12-day stay, it was the Adviaj Family, Muslim immigrants from Albania, who hosted the Oliviers in their home.
Dr. Lieblich graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1981. He taught dentistry at the University of Connecticut before going into private practice in 1988. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and on the American Dental Association’s Commission on Accreditation and co-chairs the Parameters of Care Committee of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
According to his official biography, Dr. Lieblich makes an annual pilgrimage to Haiti to promote medical care.
Although Little John still has quite a recovery period ahead of him, the little boy from Haiti will hopefully celebrate many more Christmases to come, all thanks to the generosity of a Colorado Church, a Jewish dentist in Connecticut, and a Muslim family from Albania.
Author: Contributing writer Maxwell Rotbart specializes in covering business, education, and history-related topics. He is the author of The State of Israel: Prime Ministers, available from Amazon.com.
Other Recent Incisor Articles by Maxwell Rotbart:
- Orthodontic ‘Wars’ Pit Brick-and-Mortar Operations Against DIY At-Home Kits
- Twix or (Lemony) Treat? Why Dentists in Cajun Country Are Likely to See More Cracked Teeth
- Kids Teaching Parents How to ‘Floss.’ Too Bad No Teeth Are Involved.
- The Dental Clinic of Tomorrow is Seeing Patients Today
- Tiny Iceland’s World Cup Hopes Rest in the Hands of a Dentist
- The Plight of One Dentist and his $1 Million Student Loan Debt