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By June, Suy could walk with crutches or two canes _ haltingly, and not very far, but he had surpassed anyone’s expectations.

“It would not have surprised me if he did not walk at all,” said Dr. John Liu, the Chicago surgeon who operated on Suy. “The fact that he’s actually doing this well … is fantastic.”

After a month at a transitional Chicago rehab center, Suy was ready to return home.

Rosite Merentie, a Haitian-born hospice nurse in Chicago who flew with Ivankovich to Haiti after the quake, was moved to tears by Suy’s progress. “This one patient I know I helped,” she said.

“I saw so many in Haiti who were injured _ head trauma, leg and spine injuries, burns, infections, wounds, dead bodies, pieces of bodies,” she said. Seeing Suy “for me is just a joy, I cannot even explain.”

She found Suy an apartment in Port-au-Prince, while Ivankovich looked into online college programs Suy could pursue back home. The doctor made plans for Suy to continue rehab at a newly built rehab clinic, one of the few signs of progress in Port-au-Prince.

Suy wanted to volunteer there, to give hope and encouragement to other disabled patients.

“He’s not grandiose. He knows he’s not going to save the country. But to hear him say, ‘If I can maybe help one or two people,’ it’s just very refreshing to hear,” said Dr. David Chen, who oversaw Suy’s treatment at the rehab hospital.

Suy looked forward to going home. But he worried too _ about finding a job, paying for his apartment, and the challenges of being a disabled young man in an even more disabled country.

Suy can expect additional improvement in his mobility for up to a year, Ivankovich said. Whether he’ll ever walk unassisted is uncertain.

Merentie and Ivankovich joined Suy on his journey, bringing along eight suitcases brimming with donated clothes, medical supplies and laptop computers.

With a small American flag propped in the pocket of his sport shirt, and a red-and-blue Haitian flag design on his T-shirt underneath, Suy somberly peered out the window as the plane descended into Port-au-Prince. Crumbling houses and tent cities extended for miles below.

“It looks terrible. It’s worse than I thought,” he said.

At the airport, Suy was greeted by his brother and a cousin. He lived with them before the quake, but now their apartment is demolished. Now they live in tents, with no school and no jobs.

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