Wed | Dec 7, 2016

J'can mom gets free surgery in Cayman

Published:Saturday | October 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Lesha Mathews -Photo by Janet Silvera

A young woman from Jamaica is the latest beneficiary of life-enhancing surgery and care provided free of charge by the skilled team of cardiac surgeons at Health City Cayman Islands.

"The young woman was suffering, and none of the clinics on the United States (US) mainland contacted by her doctor was able to perform the procedure at no cost to the patient. Something needed to be done, so we stepped in," reported Shomari Scott, marketing director for the ultra-modern Cayman facility.

Lesha Mathews, a 25-year-old from Kingston, and mother of a two-year-old, was diagnosed with a heart condition as a child. For the past six years her condition worsened and rendered her capable of only routine activities. Her cardiologist then diagnosed her with a leaking heart valve that needed to be corrected surgically.

However, because of financial constraints, Mathews was unable to get the urgently needed operation.

Her cardiologist in Kingston, Dr William Foster, reached out to doctors and clinics in the US seeking their help, but all to no avail. He said "it was an odyssey that lasted a year".

But all that changed when her serious condition caught the eye of Dr Binoy Chattuparambil, senior consultant, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, at Health City Cayman Islands, a few months ago.

"After detailed evaluation of all her reports, including the echocardiogram, we decided to invite her to Health City for the surgery."

A delighted Dr Foster in Jamaica moved quickly to arrange transportation and Cayman Airways stepped in to donate her airfare. "I saw her off at the airport. As she sat in a wheelchair, she seemed apprehensive about going alone, but happy that a bright future lay ahead," recalled the physician.

UNDERNOURISHED AND FRAIL

Upon her arrival at Health City, Dr Binoy, as he is known to staff and the local community, found Matthews undernourished and frail because of her long-standing heart disease. "One of the main valves in her heart was leaking severely and the pumping ability of the heart was compromised ... it was decided to take her up for surgery at the earliest."

At this stage, the experience of the Health City heart specialist came into play with Dr Binoy and his team opting for a more complicated operation, the expertise for which is available in only a few hospitals in the United States. "The plan was to repair the valve and not to replace it - even though repair is more technically challenging than replacing the valve - as replacing the valve with an artificial valve will make her dependent on blood-thinning medications for the rest of her life, with its associated complications."

The procedure took three and a half hours. "She was sitting on a chair the same evening sipping juice," he said. "She will be on a few medications for three months and after that she will be free from all medications. The prognosis for a healthy, normal life is a very good one," Dr Binoy added.

Lesha Matthews returned to Jamaica on Monday.