Front Page

Previous Story

Next Story

NIH Record vertical blue bar column separator
Dance Choir Gives Thanks to NIH

By Dianne Needham

Photos by Ernie Branson

Sounds of calypso and African, West Indian and South African folk music filled the air and colors of the Caribbean swirled on stage Sept. 2 when the Trinidad and Tobago-based musical-drama group Jeunes Agape ("young unconditional love") performed before a packed audience in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. The performance was a tribute of thanks to the NIH physicians, researchers and health care professionals who saved the life of one of the group's members — Ian Baptiste.

Ian and his identical twin brother, Deon, performed with Jeunes Agape to show their gratitude to the medical team who treated and cared for them. "This is our gift to NIH," said Ian. He became ill last year with severe aplastic anemia at his home in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and was referred to NIH. Once here, doctors realized he would need a blood stem cell transplant and the procedure was done last Christmas Eve. The Jeunes Agape performance was exactly 1 year to the day when Ian first came to the Clinical Center for treatment.

Brothers Ian (r) and Deon Baptiste

Clinical Center director Dr. John Gallin welcomed attendees, remarking, "It is not often in the midst of our busy work schedules we have the opportunity to embrace art and life we celebrate the art — the music and dance of Trinidad and Tobago and the life — of Ian."

NHLBI Hematology Branch chief Dr. Neal Young and NHLBI stem cell allotransplantation section chief Dr. John Barrett also addressed the audience. Young said the NIH medical team knows they were able to help Ian and Deon but notes that NIH also benefits from the twins. "We gained as physicians and nurses from the rare experience of undertaking a twin transplant and as scientists from access to Ian and his brother's cells for lymphocyte attack on their bone marrow cell targets."
Ian Baptiste performs with Jeunes Agape to show gratitude to the medical team who treated him.

Barrett described how the NHLBI blood and marrow transplant team frequently has to deal with tragic and life-threatening illnesses affecting people in the prime of life. "It has been inspiring to witness the courage and calmness of people such as Ian faced with life-threatening illness, and a privilege to have been given their trust in undergoing difficult and dangerous as well as novel treatment procedures. And we should not forget stem cell donors such as Deon who selflessly put themselves through the discomfort and inconvenience of stem cell donation in order to provide a unique gift of life to the patient."

Dr. Paul Byam
In introducing Jeunes Agape, Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago counselor Dr. Paul Byam characterized the group's experience with Ian and Deon with a maxim: "There is an old African proverb which states that when one crane is limping the whole band of cranes limps with it. We are all truly thankful that this band of brothers and sisters no longer limps, but can sing and dance once again, effortlessly and in unison."

Once on stage, Jeunes Agape radiated energy. Their performance included more than a half dozen vocal and instrumental numbers. But perhaps the telling tale of the entire program was when Ian and Deon opened the show with a dance titled, "Still I Rise."

The Jeunes Agape performance may be viewed at Under Past Events, select "Celebrating Art and Life — Musical-Drama Group Jeunes Agape Performs at NIH."

On stage for a capacity Masur Auditorium crowd, the dance choir radiates energy.

The Jeunes Agape performance was exactly 1 year to the day when Ian (r) first came to the Clinical Center for treatment.

Up to Top