Premie turned neonatologist reunites with doc who saved her life
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June 16, 2023
Premie turned neonatologist reunites with doc who saved her life

by Jada Chambers

United States-based Vincentian Neonatologist Josel Doyle, was expected to die shortly after birth having been born prematurely. She however, defied the odds and lived and has reunited with the doctor who saved her life as she looks forward to soon celebrate her 40th birthday.

Doyle, who currently resides in Kansas, USA was born and raised in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). She entered the world two and a half months before she was due at a time when the range of medical equipment in the country was extremely limited. She weighed three pounds, two ounces, wasn’t gaining weight, couldn’t maintain her body temperature and was labelled as a “failure to thrive” baby.

Still, her mother advocated to take her home, but because she was expected to die, her request was denied.

Her mother was, however, relentless. She told the doctors to let her take her baby home and “If it is God’s will for her not to survive, then so be it.”

Finally, Doctor Bharati Datta let her mother take home baby Josel and in two weeks Doyle surprised the doctors when she returned with the baby to the hospital alive and looking healthy. Baby Doyle, now doctor Doyle will be celebrating her 40th year of life on Saturday, June 17.

Doyle told SEARCHLIGHT that she learnt about her survival story when she was very young, and that she was at the age of five when she decided to become like the woman who saved her life.

“… I remember always admiring this short, beautiful lady that came away from her home island to come and …take care of us because if anybody knows Dr Datta, she’s always had this quiet, yet strong personality that she always demanded that attention, and I guess I picked that up from the age of five and I always told my mom I wanted to be just like her,” she explained.

“And that actually became my obsession with wanting to become like her, so said so done.”

Even though this story has been etched in Doyle’s mind for almost four decades, Dr Datta told SEARCHLIGHT that it wasn’t until one month ago when Doyle met her and thanked her for what she did that she was reminded of that particular case.

“She took me out to lunch. She gave me a little token of appreciation for all the years. I put it up in my office, I look at it everyday… every morning I look at it…”, Dr Datta said.

“I just smiled at her, and all I could say was ‘thank you’ … we had a good laugh. She gave me a good hug, and she said, ‘You know mommy still remembers you’, and I said ‘yes, I used to have it out with her’, she related.

“They hardly had any resources, I said ‘Josel you realize that, with almost nothing, we have worked and come up this far”? She said ‘yeah I realize that’, because she herself was a preemie baby, and look at her, she’s brilliant. I said, ‘I must have done something right Josel’, ‘she said, ‘yes’, so we both had a good laugh over that”.

Despite the desire and drive Doyle has derived from her story being “brilliant” comes with a higher price than a likely death experience; she said that she has had to face numerous challenges in her pursuit of becoming a neontologist.

“… I always say when I came into medicine I had four strikes against me. I was Black. I was female. I was a foreign grad, and I was an immigrant. So one of the struggles that you find when you obviously train in the islands, then migrate to study in the US you not only come across the prejudices because of the colour of your skin, but you also experience being female,” Dr Doyle noted.

She said that there is a hierarchy in medicine where an ideal physician is a White male doctor, and a mentality that if a person didn’t train or study in the US, they’re not as good.

“So you always have to work twice as hard to prove to everybody that you are just as good, irrespective of where you’re trained. When you’re an immigrant, you have to deal with the struggles of them thinking that you’re wanting to come to take their jobs.”

Still, Doyle has been able to thrive despite these unfavourable circumstances and she has copped numerous awards for her contribution to the medical field. She has been recognized as the top Neontologist in Topeka, Kansas, this year and as an influential physician in 2016 by ‘Who’s Who’ and ‘Continental Medicine’. Dr Doyle won the title of Global Entrepreneur Honoree in 2022. She also served as a representative from Caribbean Health Collaborative (CHC) when it partnered with a group of Vincentian physicians to purchase needed medical equipment and supplies for the Paediatric Ward/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).

The preemie baby, now acclaimed medical doctor is also embarking on a journey as a physician entrepreneur; she is the founder of JAAD’s purpose which provides a range of neonatal care services.