Eye patient Linessa Woolcock (second right) and her mother Yvonne Campbell (left) meet with Cuban First Secretary Guillermo Hernadez (second left) and Cuban Ambassador Gisela Garcia Rivera at the Cuban Embassy, Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, yesterday. Lenissa will be flown to Cuba this Saturday for treatment. - RUDOLPH BROWN/CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
THE CUBAN Government has stepped in to save the vision of 15-year-old Lenissa Woolcock from Lilliput, St. James.
Lenissa is to be flown to Cuba this Saturday for treatment on a large growth over her left eye which doctors said could turn cancerous and blind her in that eye if not cured before March.
Guillermo Hernandez, First Secretary at the Cuban Embassy, asked his government to assist after he read an article in last week's Gleaner in which Lenissa's mother, Yvonne Campbell, appealed for assistance.
Paying a visit with her mother to the Cuban Embassy's modest premises on Trafalgar Road, Lenissa expressed her appreciation not just to the Cubans but to members of the Jamaican public who have so far donated J$57,867 to her appeal fund. The total cost of Lenissa's operation and hospital stay is US$7,533 (J$490,000).
She and her mother will also be flying on the same Cuban government-owned plane which each week flies 100 Jamaicans to Cuba under Operation Miracle which has so far seen almost 2,000 receive free eye surgery in that country.
In Cuba, doctors will examine her eye to decide whether she needs medicine or an operation to save it.
"I am sure you will be returning beautiful," Cuban Ambassador Gisela Garcia Riveria told Lenissa in her office. "It is the best hospital in Cuba, the equipment is state-of-the-art and it has the best specialists. You will find it is very nice, like a hotel," she said of the Pando Ferrer Eye Hospital in Havana, part of Cuba's thriving health tourism industry which generates revenues of US$1.8 billion per year.
"I am really grateful for all of the people or persons that have contributed to help me," said Lenissa who, with her eye hidden by a sun visor pulled down over her face, was too shy to speak.
Instead she wrote her comments in the reporter's notebook. "I've had this illness a long, long time and I hope after the surgery I'll look pretty like any other girl."
Lenissa had been diagnosed with intraorbital expansion at age four which was successfully treated with eye drops although it recurred when she started grade four in primary school.
Lenissa, who now attends Anchovy High School in St. James, told The Gleaner last week that her eye pains her sometimes.
She said she is, however, comforted by the fact that her schoolmates have not made fun of her misfortune.
Lenissa's appeal fund is being managed by the Gleaner Company's Western Bureau in Montego Bay.
If you made a donation and would like to divert it to an alternative cause or returned then please contact Bureau
Manager Shernett Robinson at 952-2454/2822.