MANCHESTER – Just one day after his most recent chemotherapy treatment for eye cancer, 3-year-old Widerson Mompremier bounces around the yard of Dr. Laurel Coleman, beaming.

The joyful, outgoing youngster kicks a soccer ball around but stops frequently to plant kisses and hugs on two people who spent months getting him out of his impoverished mountain village in Haiti — Soufriere, “place of suffering” — so he could have life-saving surgery in Boston.

A conversation between Coleman and a reporter is put on hold for this exchange between Coleman and Widerson, who speaks Creole but has clearly picked up some English:

Widerson: “I love you.”

Coleman: “I love you more.”

Widerson: “I love YOU more.”

Coleman’s neighbor, fellow Fayette Baptist Church member Ralph “Rock” West, smiles at the exchange. He, too, is on the receiving end of Widerson’s hugs.

The pair, as well as West’s wife, Dr. Lesley West, were part of a medical mission to northern Haiti when, at a makeshift medical clinic in a remote village, Widerson was plopped in Coleman’s lap.

“They said, ‘Something is wrong with his eye, can you fix it?’” Coleman said.

That something wrong was retinoblastoma — an eye cancer.

The team took him from the village to Cap Haitien, where the diagnosis was confirmed.

“We carried him down the mountain on our backs, like a little backpack,” Coleman said. “There was nothing we could do there. They had no medical care there.”

Through friends in Boston, Coleman spoke with Dr. Shizuo Mukai, who agreed to donate his skills to remove Widerson’s right eye and replace it with a prosthetic one.

But first, they had to get him there.

No easy task for a 3-year-old with no passport or birth certificate, in an earthquake-ravaged country.

His mother is dead and his father is a migrant worker in the Dominican Republic, Coleman said.

Upon returning home, Coleman lobbied government officials in Haiti and the United States to get Widerson to the United States.

She credits U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ staff for helping to secure the necessary paperwork and permission to bring Widerson to Boston for surgery at Mass General Hospital.

Initially, they thought Widerson’s problem eye could be removed before the cancer spread. But it took so long to get permission to get him out of Haiti, the disease spread, making chemotherapy necessary.

The tiny youth underwent chemotherapy for four weeks in a row, five days a week.

Coleman said sometimes, while he was vomiting from the chemotherapy, Widerson would ask if they could go back to Maine.

He stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Boston with his aunt from Haiti, Chacilia Richalien.

Widerson also needed all his childhood vaccines and other pediatric care, which was donated by Dr. Kieran Kammerer, through MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

Widerson was also given a free pair of eyeglasses to protect his remaining eye — donated by Smart Eyecare Center in Augusta.

Coleman said Widerson should have a 90 percent chance of survival.

Still ahead of him is proton beam radiation — a treatment available only at the Boston hospital and one or two other hospitals in the country.

West, who has made seven trips volunteering in Haiti, said Widerson never would have gotten the help he needed without both Coleman’s persistence and the Fayette Baptist Church’s trips to Haiti.

They both believe Widerson is destined for big things.

“Being a man of faith, certainly I think the good Lord had something to do with helping this little guy out,” West said. “It’s against all odds.”


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