PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 17, 2010— -- In a disaster the scale of the earthquake that devastated Haiti's capital Tuesday, the sheer numbers of victims needing help might seem overwhelming.
But when American writer Ben Skinner heard that a man named Bill Nathan was severely injured, he said he knew he had to take extraordinary measures to get him the care he needed.
Nathan is not an ordinary man. He was a child slave in Haiti who was severely beaten by his captors. He finally escaped, got an education and now runs an orphanage for former child slaves.
That orphanage, St. Joseph's Home for Boys, like so much of Port-Au-Prince, was severely damaged in the earthquake. All the children got out of the building safely, but Nathan was hurt when the building collapsed.
"The quake hit and he just flew right off of the building," said Skinner, who met Nathan when he came to Haiti doing research for his book on modern-day slavery, "A Crime So Monstrous."
"He flew off of the top of the building, seven stories down on his back on the roof of a neighboring building, tumbled from that onto a tool shed and then he rolled onto the ground and then the rest of the building came down on top of him," he said.
ABC News first met Nathan when he helped "Nightline" do a story about Haiti's epidemic of child slaves. He translated, with great sensitivity, during "Nightline's" interviews with children he had helped.
Skinner's relationship with Nathan goes deeper than a writer and a valuable source. During the time he was in Haiti working on his book, Skinner got a severe case of malaria and Nathan nursed him back to health.
So when he heard that Nathan was in trouble, Skinner came from America to rescue him. Skinner raised the funds and pulled the strings to get Nathan on a charter flight to the United States where he will be able to get medical attention for a serious spinal injury.
"When I was down here Bill saved my life," Skinner said. "So this is payback. That's why I'm here. That's why we chartered the flight.It's a lot of work -- it's a lot of work you've done to get him out.It's worth it."
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Nathan was flown to Broward General Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., according to a statement on the Web site of Hearts With Haiti, which operates St. Joseph's. According to the posting, a trauma surgeon there said Nathan would be "O.K."
Skinner said he knows there are thousands here who desperately need help, but he said Nathan truly deserved special attention.
"He has been responsible for saving hundreds of lives. The orphanage has been responsible for changing thousands of lives," Skinner said. "He will be the change and the hope for Haiti in the future. If Bill doesn't make it, it will be a less hopeful place. So that's why we're getting him out."