PM announces $100,000 for student’s kidney operation
March 27, 2009
PM announces $100,000 for student’s kidney operation

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has stepped up to the plate to assist 16-year-old kidney patient, Rodney King, to get a chance at a new lease on life.{{more}}

At a press conference last Monday, March 23, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that Cabinet has approved a proposal to donate the sum of $100,000 (TT$200,000) to meet the immediate post operative cost of the kidney transplant surgery that King is scheduled to have.

Dr Gonsalves’ announcement comes a few months after SEARCHLIGHT newspaper brought King’s plight to the attention of the public.

King was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Failure (CKF) at age 12, while he was a student of the St Vincent Grammar School.

If King does not get a kidney transplant, he will have to continue what has become a frustrating routine of a 45-minute dialysis treatment every four hours, every day.

Since King’s story appeared in the SEARCHLIGHT, several groups and organizations, including King’s current schoolmates at the Community College, have been raising funds to assist him.

Dr Gonsalves told reporters that the government’s assistance is just one of several examples of the government reaching out to assist persons who are in need of tertiary health care procedures.

He said that several persons have benefited from the medical care agreement between the governments of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

King will receive a kidney from his father Derrick James in an operation that is set to be done by the National Organ Transplant Unit at the Eric Williams Medical Centre at Mount Hope, Trinidad, by the end of April or early May. The cost of the operation will be borne by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

The government will also assist King in meeting the cost of ongoing medical care after the operation, which could run upward of $150,000 per year, Dr Gonsalves further added.

“I am very happy. I feel good to know that people are trying to help my son. I must say thanks to the Prime Minister because he really coming through for my son,” said Roselle King, Rodney’s mother.

She told SEARCHLIGHT that many times she apologized to the Prime Minister for continually calling him on her son’s behalf, even though he said it was ok.

Dr Gonsalves used the opportunity of the press conference and King’s situation to stress his government’s concern for the health care of citizens.

He also announced that plans are being finalized for the government to partner with Radiologist Dr Rosalind Ambrose and her Caribbean Medical Imaging Centre, based at the Russell’s Shopping Centre at Stoney Ground, to replace its CT scan machine.

The machine has not been functioning for the last few months and Dr Gonsalves said that a partnership is needed to ensure that the service is available to citizens.

A CT Scan machine will cost about $1 million and some $120,000 to do annual maintenance.

The Prime Minister said that funding will come from the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the National Insurance Services (NIS). Funding may also come from the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), the Prime Minister said.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted Minister of Health Dr Douglas Slater, he explained that a committee was being set up to hold discussions about the nature of the partnership between the private enterprise and the government.

He said that for now, informal discussions are taking place and arrangements like the one being proposed are being studied so that the ideal partnership structure could be arrived at.

The health minister said that what is important is that the service is available for Vincentians. (KJ)