Gov. Rendell aboard Haitian orphan-rescue flight

Posted: January 19, 2010

Gov. Rendell was expected to arrive in Haiti last night in an effort to rescue 61 children from that earthquake-torn country who live in an orphanage run by two sisters from the Pittsburgh area.

Rendell worked through the weekend with the U.S. State Department and branches of the military to help set up an airlift for the kids from the BRESMA orphanage run by Jamie and Ali McMutrie, of Ben Avon, Pa.

"The Haitian ambassador to the U.S. recommended that the governor personally make the trip," Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma said. "He thought it was important for someone of that stature to be on the trip in case they ran into problems. So the governor agreed to go."

Tuma last spoke with Rendell about 3 p.m. yesterday when he was about to leave Miami after having flown out of Pittsburgh in the morning. Tuma said that Rendell was supposed to arrive at the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the early evening but noted that the situation was very fluid and "we don't know whether this is going to come together."

The plan was for 61 of the orphanage's 150 children to be waiting at the airport, cleared for a quick take-off back to Miami and then on to Pittsburgh. Tuma said that the children, 41 of whom are in various stages of being adopted by American families, will be taken to Children's Hospital, in Pittsburgh. They will then be cared for by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Tuma said that Rendell became involved after the McMutrie sisters sought help from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

UPMC officials then asked Rendell to get involved.

Tuma said that doctors and nurses from the Pittsburgh area are on the flight, a charter owned by Republic Air, to help with the injured from the earthquake.

The Associated Press reported that the plane headed to Port-au-Prince was loaded with relief supplies from the Brother's Brother Foundation of Pittsburgh along with staff from the West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Brother's Brother Foundation yesterday said that its first shipment included antibiotics, surgical packs and instruments and other medical supplies for Haiti.

BRESMA, the orphanage where the sisters are struggling to care for the children, is an acronym for Brebis de Saint-Michel de L'Attalaye

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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