A mistake, purportedly made at the level of the Public Health Ministry, currently has the lives of two kidney failure patients, in dire need of transplants, hanging in the balance.
The patients are 28-year-old Richard Manpersaud of Seaforth Street, Campbellville, Georgetown and 17-year-old, Rovin Sohan, of Bush Lot, Berbice. The two have been suffering from kidney failure for some time and have been scheduled for transplants on February 19 and 20, 2018 respectively.
This publication understands that the surgical procedures have already been slotted into the theatre schedule of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] to be undertaken by local Kidney Surgeon, Dr. Kishore Persaud. However, the patients, who have secured donors, are dependent on the cross-matching services of the University of Miami, United States.
This publication was privy to information which clearly shows that the GPHC has been working in close collaboration with the Miami University since 2015 to facilitate cross-matching services to Guyanese patients who underwent kidney transplant surgeries at the public hospital.
However, following an unprecedented development two Mondays ago, this publication was informed that a decision was made by the Ministry to have the public health sector’s collaboration with the University of Miami be discontinued.
The genesis of this state of affairs this publication has learnt stemmed from a visit by the two kidney failure patients to the Ministry of Public Health to solicit financial support to facilitate the cross-matching tests.
While Manpersaud was able to raise funds about a year ago to facilitate the process at the very university when his brother was willing to donate to his kidney [to Manpersaud], because his brother fell ill the planned surgery was cancelled. Manpersaud has since been able to secure another donor in the person of his brother-in-law.
Worried that he would not be able to solicit public funding again to undertake the cross-matching tests again, Manpersaud found himself in a similar financial predicament to Sohan. They both decided to seek help from the Public Health Ministry as other kidney failure patients before them had done.
Relating the process of seeking the much needed financial support, Manpersaud recalled how letters were sent on their behalf, complete with the GPHC’s letterhead, to the Ministry requesting support. No response was forthcoming, which led to them visiting the Brickdam, Georgetown headquarters of the Ministry. There they met one Bibi Seeraj who informed them that the quotation attached to the letter requesting support was not valid since it was coming from the GPHC.
“I asked her what was the requirement….she explained that we needed a quotation directly from the University [of Miami]. We went back to the dialysis centre [at GPHC] and communicate this to them their [Kidney Transplant Surgeron, Dr. Kishore Persaud and his team] and they managed to get a letter from the University,” Manpersaud related.
The two kidney failure patients returned to the Ministry on January 29, 2018 armed with the letter from the university stating the cost for the cross-matching tests among other details. But again, Manpersaud said, Seeraj related that without the University’s stamp, the document was not valid. A call to the GPHC’s dialysis centre revealed that since it was merely a quotation, no stamp was required for the document.
But the two patients were in such dire need of support – because the transplant date was drawing close – that they decided to head to the office of Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, for assistance. They were, however, informed that Minister Lawrence was on travel duty.
“We met with a Sister Hicks instead, because the Junior Minister was not there too. When we met with Sister Hicks we explained the situation to her and a Mr. John Adams was in her office and he said he will help us…he pick up the documents and he went down to Bibi [Seeraj] to find out what is going on,” Manpersaud recounted.
Manpersaud added, Adams [Ministerial Adviser to the Minister] after consulting with Seeraj, proclaimed that the letter from the university did not have telephone numbers.
This, however, was not the case, since this publication after perusing same was quickly able to see a telephone number for the university. Adams instead was able to find a number for the university via the internet search engine Google.
Manpersaud related how Adams made the call to the university and instead of enquiring about the cross-matching tests, asked whether the two patients were listed for transplants. The answer from the university was understandably in the negative, since the two are slated to be operated on at the GPHC and not at the University of Miami.
“I tried to explain this to the man [Adams], but he was of the opinion that because these people didn’t have our name, our documents were forged…and he sent us to wait in the lobby,” related Manpersaud. The waiting lasted all morning into the afternoon. Overwhelmed by hunger during the wait, Manpersaud said that he left Sohan, who was in the company of his mother, to head to the Ministry’s canteen to purchase something to drink.
But before he could complete his transaction at the canteen, Manpersaud said that he was confronted by ranks of the Guyana Police Force. Adams, Manpersaud related, was in the company of the ranks stating ‘this is one of them, hold him’.
“I look at them [four policemen with big guns] and laugh –– and I say wrong man…but the police them grab me and I realise they ain’t smiling, so is not no joke. I started asking them ‘is what I getting arrest for?” They tell me I getting arrest for forgery. I say ‘me ain’t create no document so how I could forge a document…but I cooperate with them because I didn’t want cause a scene,” Manpersaud shared.
Manpersaud said that the police ranks attempted to bundle him and Sohan into the back of their pick-up to take them to the Brickdam Police Station. The two ailing men however insisted that they were not well enough to be placed in a possibly bacteria-infested vehicle. Instead they pleaded with the ranks to allow them to be driven to the Station by Sohan’s mother who had brought him to the Ministry in her vehicle.
“I open my shirt and show them I’m doing dialysis and I’m a sick man…I explained the situation to the police [men] and they understand,” Manpersaud recalled.
At the Brickdam Station, Manpersaud revealed that Adams, Seeraj and Sister Hicks followed to give statements. But, according to him, no prior attempts were made to contact officials of the GPHC.
Manpersaud said that ranks belatedly insisted that they also needed statements from Dr. Kishore and his secretary who had provided the letter from the University of Miami which was earlier handed over to the Ministry.
“Dr. Kishore and his secretary eventually turned up at the station and they give them all the information they needed; they give them numbers and tell them call up the people to clarify the matter, but Mr. Adams kept telling the police ranks how he is a Member of Parliament, like he want scare them,” related Manpersaud.
Manpersaud said that he desperately pointed out to Adams that he erred by asking the University officials about transplant patients rather than about patients who required cross-matching tests.
“Adams went quiet after that, because I believe he realised the mistake he made…and he walked out the police station and left with the two others he came with and say he will send in his statement. We spend nearly four hours at the station that day, but even after everything we explain to the police, they say they can’t let us go if we don’t pay bail,” Manpersaud related. Both Manpersaud and Sohan were each required to pay $10,000 bail before being released from police custody. Neither has been refunded their bail money.
“We didn’t even get to take our medication or even eat…we went to the Ministry around 9am the day and we ain’t left the police station till around 8 the night,” said a distraught Manpersaud.
Hoping that the matter would have been resolved after the unfortunate dilemma, Manpersaud said that continued efforts were made to seek the assistance of Minister Lawrence. However, this was to no avail, since subsequently the patients have been furnished with information that the Ministry is not prepared to lend its assistance to an institution that it does not recognise.
But herein lies a major debacle for the kidney failure patients. Not only are Sohan and Manpersaud left in a predicament in terms of their surgeries being stalled, but this is likely to cause the surgeries for at least three other patients to be put on hold.
Based on information shared with this publication, other patients – Feddie Budhoo, Paul Persaud and Navindra Subramanie – are on a waiting list that has also been stalled because of the unwarranted fallout.
Further, a group of post-transplant patients have shared with this publication that they too will be considerably affected because of the decision to sever ties with the University of Miami. Speaking on behalf of 19-odd post transplant patients, who have been seeking follow-up care at the GPHC, Henry Brandon, who underwent transplant surgery at the GPHC, said that the Miami University has been offering needed tests at a fraction of the cost at some other facilities.
According to Brandon, post-transplant patients, among other things, have been relying on the University to determine the level of Tacrolimus in their system. This is required, he said, to determine whether its dosage should be increased or decreased. Tacrolimus is one of the immune-suppressive drugs being used by post transplant patients.
In the meantime, life continues to deteriorate for both Manpersaud and Sohan.
Sohan, this publication understands remained unwell even after undergoing dialysis at the GPHC yesterday. Manpersaud, who recalled suffering a blackout while also undergoing a dialysis cycle yesterday, like the other patients, is hoping that President David Granger and all relevant officials would intervene in the daunting matter that could send them to an early grave.
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