Friends for Life

When Brittany Hurd of Hendersonville, Tennessee decided to go on a mission trip with her church to Haiti, she had no idea she would return to the United States with a friend.

When Brittany went with her church to Haiti, the first person she met getting off the plane was Jimmy Gel. He was assigned to the church group serving as their bodyguard and interpreter. Right away, Brittany noticed Gel was in constant pain. He had a hard time holding things and was having trouble walking. Brittany, who's a nurse at Saint Thomas Health, a part of Ascension, immediately knew his condition was a spine related issue. So, she sent an email to her bosses in Nashville asking if there was anything the hospital could do to help this man, who had a wife and daughter and very little money. The word eventually got to Dr. Brian O'Shaughnessy, a neurosurgeon at Saint Thomas Health. Without hesitation, Dr. O'Shaughnessy wanted help. That's all it took. Gel was on a flight from Haiti to Nashville. He was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the open spaces within the spine which puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves.

Watch the video as Gel has the surgery free of charge through the Saint Thomas Health Foundation as part of its mission to help those who need it most. Hear what Gel says about the people that made this happen and the family he left behind for more than a month to have the surgery. 

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