Though he has spent most of his life outside Jamaica, Matthew Wood maintains a deep-rooted connection to the land of his birth. Born in Kingston, the son of Brian and Ann Wood, he spent his early childhood in Puerto Rico, and his teenage years in the United States.
By the time he entered the 10th grade, he had developed a strong passion for medicine - an interest that would ultimately pave the way for his philanthropic work in Jamaica.
"Once I began my studies at McDaniel College in Maryland, I really tried to absorb as much as I could," notes Wood. "I volunteered at hospitals in North Carolina and Maryland in the intensive care unit, oncology, orthopaedics, surgical services and emergency departments, and completed several internships at physicians' offices," he explained.
His insatiable appetite to learn led him to join the esteemed International Scholar Laureate Programme (ISLP) Delegation on Medicine to Australia to further hone his skills.
During his senior year, instead of partying with his classmates for spring break, Wood opted to return to Jamaica and work at the Bustamante Hospital for Children. During his time at the facility, he was greatly disheartened by the lack of proper equipment for children requiring cardiology, cardiothoracic and ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeries. A truly unforgettable experience, he was saddened by the fact that his patients were not able to enjoy the full benefit of the available state-of-the-art technologies.
Upon completing his rotation, he was overcome by an unrelenting desire to give back in any way he could.
"I decided to host a small fund-raiser to collect money to purchase surgical supplies that the hospital desperately needed," he revealed. "I was able to bring together my parents, friends and family, and encouraged them to make a donation that would go a long way in improving the standard of treatment for children at Bustamante. Through our efforts, we were able to raise J$96,000," he proudly highlighted as he smiled.
To ensure that the funds were effectively utilised, and to provide a platform for transparency and accountability, Wood partnered with the Cari-Med Foundation - a charitable organisation that promotes local community development, to assist with the handover of the donation. After coming onboard for the project, Cari-Med subsequently increased the contribution to J$100,000.
Wood credits his parents with enabling him to receive a good education and instilling a value system that emphasises benevolence and compassion. They have wholeheartedly supported him in his pursuit, and have always encouraged him to be the best at anything he sets out to.
Wood sees this initial donation as a stepping stone to future contributions he intends to make to Jamaica. "I am currently applying to medical schools around the world, including institutions in the United States, Jamaica, Europe and Australia," he shared. "Once I complete school, I would love to be able to return to Jamaica and truly make an impact on my country through the health-care sector."