GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Rachel Shim was visited yesterday by Dr. Louise Iwaishi at the Shims' home near Kalakaua Avenue and Makaloa Street. During Sunday's electrical blackout, Iwaishi helped push 10-year-old Rachel to Kapiolani Medical Center by wheelchair. The girl had only about an hour left on the battery that powered her ventilator. "She's so wonderful," Rachel's mother said of Iwaishi, who makes frequent house calls on Rachel. "She help set up everything for me. ... I never met that kind of doctor."
House Call Saves Girl
A Kapiolani doctor becomes an angel of mercy during the blackout
With about an hour left on a backup battery for the ventilator keeping her 10-year-old daughter alive, Misouk Shim frantically called for help after the power shut off after Sunday's earthquakes.
A hero's welcome
If you know of someone who went out of his way to help others during the earthquakes and power outages Sunday, tell us about it. Send us an e-mail at email@example.com and include information on how to call you back if we need to find out more about what happened.
But the multiple messages she left on the doctor's cellular phone and pager did not go through because the phone lines were tied up.
Panic quickly turned to joy and relief after Dr. Louise Iwaishi, a pediatrician at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, showed up at her doorstep.
When the power went out, Iwaishi said her first thought was of Rachel Shim, 10, her patient of five years.
Rachel was diagnosed with Aicardi syndrome, a rare disorder where patients suffer from spasms, developmental brain problems and an inability to speak or swallow on their own. She is fully dependent on a tracheostomy, a hole in her throat hooked up to her ventilator to help her breathe.
For her first four years, she remained in the hospital, dependent on a ventilator and other equipment to keep her functional. Eventually, through the Medically Fragile Children's Waiver Program, she was able to get daily nursing care at home. During the power failure, Rachel's father, Jae Dong Shim, attempted to power up her daughter's generator for the ventilator, but it was not working.
When Iwaishi heard that the power was expected to be out for about 12 hours, she called their house at about 9 a.m. and assumed the family was at the hospital because there was no answer.
Five hours later, she called the hospital again to check whether Rachel Shim was there.
She was not.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Rachel Shim and her day nurse, Mark Avery, at her Makaloa area home. Following the earthquakes and electrical blackout Sunday, Rachel was taken by wheelchair to Kapiolani Women & Children's Hospital by Dr. Louise Iwaishi.
Thoughts filled her mind of how Rachel only had a short time left on her ventilator battery after seven hours had passed since the power failure.
"I needed to get her to Kapiolani," Iwaishi said. "There was no question."
Iwaishi recalled turning to her husband, Norman, and saying, "Now! We're going to her house!"
When she arrived about 2:30 p.m., Iwaishi did not waste any time. Rachel was moved to her wheelchair from her bed as Iwaishi helped reattach and gather her equipment: ventilator, feeding pump, humidifier, pulse oximeter, nebulizer and suction device.
They left the home on foot -- crossing about four intersections along King Street and Kalakaua Avenue while traffic lights were down. Rachel's mother pushed her daughter's wheelchair as Iwaishi raised her hand in the air to stop cars as they made the 20-minute walk from the Shims' apartment on Kalakaua Avenue to the hospital. Alongside was Rachel's father and 7-year-old brother, Aaron.
Meanwhile, Iwaishi's husband and 81-year-old mother, Alma Kido, filled their car with Rachel's feeding supplies and other essentials to meet them at the hospital, where the girl remained until Monday morning.
Mark Avery, Rachel's nurse of six years, said of Iwaishi, "You don't have a lot of doctors who come to their home. She's rare."
"She's so wonderful," Rachel's mother said, noting that Iwaishi makes frequent home visits to check on her daughter. "She help set up everything for me. ... I never met that kind of doctor."
Iwaishi deflected the praise.
"It was a family effort," she said, adding that Rachel's parents, native Koreans who speak little English, made sure they lived close to the hospital in case they were faced with an emergency.
"It's the family, it's the nurses who sustain the patient," she said.
While Iwaishi checked on her patient at the Shims' apartment yesterday, Rachel's gurgled and gleefully smiled at her as the doctor rubbed her plump cheek with her index finger.
She likes her, Rachel's mother said. "She angel, that's why."