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UHWI Physiotherapy Unit gives Alfred 'Frano' Francis New Lease On Life

Published:Wednesday | September 3, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Alfred 'Frano' Francis of Running Events Jamaica explains how he was assisted by the Physiotherapy Department of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI)after he developed Guillain-Barre syndrome. - Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

Daviot Kelly, staff Reporter

Because of his association with road running in Jamaica, one would assume Alfred 'Frano' Francis of Running Events Jamaica is the epitome of good health.

But in November 2013, Francis' body betrayed him. Perhaps unknown to some, he was near death.

Francis developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks its nervous system. It left Francis, by all measure, completely paralysed.

He began receiving physiotherapy when he was in intensive care as his limbs had no life. After about eight or nine days, he left intensive care.

"I went home after three weeks and then they would come to my home and treat me until I was able to be driven to the hospital to do sessions," he said.

Francis says he was gradually "rebuilt" as it is the intent at the Ward 10-located department to bring you back to the state you were in when you got there. He admitted the experience opened his eyes about what goes on with the department.

"Growing up in sports you think about pulling a muscle or breaking a leg," he said. "And when you come here and you see all the young kids being treated, you see people who are recovering from various operations."

You don't need to be able to read minds to see Francis was touched by not just what was done for him but the scope of services.

"Being here and seeing the need that exists here and how they have to improvise and how they adapt... I want to help. This is one of the areas I want to work for, to get subscriptions, to get funding, to get support."

The department is currently in expansion mode but, as Francis pointed out, there is always the need for equipment that can aid people's recovery. He even suggested it didn't have to be brand new stuff, as long as they were working properly. Already committed to a 5K run scheduled for September 13, they found a compromise; he would do The Gleaner 5K if the department was made part beneficiary. Deal!

Francis set the course for the 5K which takes participants from The Gleaner's North Street entrance, out onto South Camp Road, onto Camp Road before turning down onto Marescaux Road. Then it's down onto Heroes Circle, before ending on East Street.

"It's a fantastic course, it's a fast course, if you run wisely," he warned with a laugh. "And the road surface is good."

He explained it like this; the first half of the race, you should be able to speak a full sentence. By the time you're heading for Marescaux, a couple of words.

"And then for the last 25 per cent of it, you should be out of breath, because you're going all out," he said.

Francis believes his illness and recovery have provided him with a different outlook on life.

"In life you need to give thanks," he said. "Being here, I think that my Maker wanted to teach me some lessons. I am thankful and I am glad that I am spared so that I can continue this wonderful work of doing road racing, helping people, (and) helping worthy causes."

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daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com