Hearts For Haiti

Dr. John '75 and Maria King Carroll '00 MA '03 provide medical care for young Haitians through their nonprofit Haitian Hearts. (Photos Provided)

Maddie Gehling ‘17
October 6, 2015

Bradley alumni Maria King Carroll ’00 MA ’03 and her husband, Dr. John Carroll ‘75, are healing Haiti one heart at a time. In two decades, the couple has given over 200 children and young adults medical care through their nonprofit Haitian Hearts.

The Peoria-based organization evolved from the couple’s trips to the impoverished island country, with Dr. Carroll making medical visits beginning in the 1980s. Before meeting her future husband, Mrs. Carroll also visited the country on a church mission trip.

Dr. Carroll’s initial trips focused on general care for tropical diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and water-borne illnesses. He also saw children with problems that couldn’t be corrected there.

Thus, Haitian Hearts was born as a compassionate outreach to young people needing care. The first patient, an infant with hydrocephalus (the buildup of fluid in the brain) who needed a shunt, was successfully brought stateside for care in 1995.

Initially, the couple brought patients to Peoria’s OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. They now work with noted hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio; Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Colorado; All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida and St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois.

The pair travels to Haiti regularly, with Dr. Carroll providing medical aid up to four times a year.

Central Illinoisans have become loyal supporters, with volunteers stateside hosting patients’ families and completing various tasks in Haiti. Over the years, volunteers have built houses, funded children’s educations and run a hospital in a mountainous region that serves a population of one million.

“Haitian Hearts has helped open the eyes of people in central Illinois to the plight of Haitians,” Dr. Carroll said. “With everything they’ve done, Haitian Hearts has created a ripple effect.”

Though the Carrolls took separate roads to the Hilltop, they both credit life success to their Bradley educations. For Mrs. Carroll, the human development counseling and English programs provided valuable tools for her part in the mission.

She said her master’s program in counseling encouraged introspection.

“My master’s in counseling is a very reflective program,” she said. “You do a lot of reflection on your values, your philosophies, your thought processes. The program helped me bring out my potential, and mature into making my values come alive in the world. You can carry them, but how do you know what someone’s values are if they don’t act on them?”

For Dr. Carroll, the pre-med biology degree set a life of service in motion.

“Since I was a child I knew I wanted to be a physician,” said Dr. Carroll. “For reasons that I can’t explain, the idea was just always there. I credit Dr. Alan Galsky for guiding me through the pre-med curriculum at Bradley. He was not only my teacher, but my academic advisor and friend.”