LONDON — A mother broke down in tears as she was reunited with her baby girl six months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.
"I had thought Landina was dead and when I heard she was alive I was in shock," the eight-month-old infant's mother, Marie Miracle Seignon, told Britain's Channel 4 News. "This is very emotional for me."
Doctors said the January earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands in the Caribbean island nation actually saved Landina's life.
Last December, a house fire caused by candles left Landina seriously injured and suffering burns to her skull.
She was undergoing treatment at La Trinite hospital in the capital when the devastating temblor struck and was buried in the rubble for two days.
When Landina was pulled from the debris, she was moved to a field hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Her right arm was badly injured in the quake and had to be amputated.
It was during her stay there that British surgeon David Nott realized that Landina would likely die within days if she did not receive an operation, Channel 4 News reported. Her skull had been so damaged by the house fire that it left her brain exposed to the risk of a fatal infection.
Since the complex operation could not be carried out in quake-ravaged country, the doctor helped to set her up with a British charity that specializes in craniofacial reconstructive surgery.
The charity, Facing the World, did not know where Landina's family was or if any of her relatives were even alive. With her medical records destroyed in the quake, they didn't even have names to work with.
Facing the World brought the baby to London, paying for her travel and medical costs and acting as her temporary guardian.
In March, Channel 4 News' Inigo Gilmore returned to Haiti to help the charity hunt for Landina's family.
With the publicity surrounding the story, several people pretended to be family members, thinking they could benefit from the relationship.
Gilmore interviewed people at the first hospital Landina had been treated at and was told that her mother was possibly living in a slum area of Port-au-Prince called Bizoton. He put out a radio announcement and located Seignon, a 26-year-old mother of four.
'Sometimes movies do come true'
Seignon had an admission card from the hospital bearing Landina's name, Channel 4 News said.
"When the notice was put out on a radio, a friend raced to my house and said, 'Please sit down.' She said, 'This may sounds like something from the movies but sometimes movies do come true. I need to tell you that Landina is alive.'"
Seignon added: "I didn't believe at first, and even after the reporter came and showed me the pictures it was still hard to believe."
After a DNA test proved that Seignon was Landina's biological mother, the charity helped her travel to London to spend six weeks with the baby she hadn't seen in half a year.
Visiting Landina at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the U.K. capital, the mother told Channel 4 News: "Seeing her now in reality is a shock to me because I last saw her as a little baby with two hands, now she has only one. Even though I had seen her in pictures I didn't believe it. Now it's real."
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