Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Having just completed teachers' college, Jacqueline Hill was ready and raring to go into the classroom to fulfil her lifelong dream of helping to educate and bring about a meaningful change in the lives of her pupils.
This dream was all but diminished when she became gravely ill and was hospitalised for several months after being diagnosed with lupus and kidney failure. "I was very sick for nearly four months to the point of wearing pampers," Hill said.
That was 10 years ago, and now the 33 year old has to undergo dialysis treatment twice per week at the University of the West Indies Hospital. Each treatment costs $6,000, and each month, in addition to medication and travelling to Kingston from her home in Portland, her resources has dwindled considerably.
"It is very expensive. I have insurance but it only covers for one day. There is no hospital in Portland that offers this service. It is very stressful as Kingston has the nearest dialysis centre," Hill said.
"I visit the centre on Monday and Thursday each week. I have to leave school and the journey is more than two and a half hours and then the dialysis process, which lasts for more than four hours, is also stressful. When I return to Portland, I have school the next morning," Hill said.
Hill is a teacher/guidance counsellor at the Boundbrook Primary School in Portland. "It is the grace of God that has kept me alive. Many of the persons who I know with this illness have died," she said.
Being an only child, it has taken her quite a while to identify a willing donor for the much-needed liver transplant. Just over a year ago, someone was identified and so far their blood group is a match, but other tests still need to be done. During this time, she has also identified three other possible donors who are more than willing to assist her if the first donor doesn't work out.
"I am now on a low-sodium diet, and I can't drink too much fluid. I have to measure my fluid intake or I will start swelling from the feet. I have to do the dialysis for the swelling to go down. Most persons on dialysis do not urinate after a few months as the dialysis cleanses the body," Hill said.
Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida has been identified as the medical facility that will carry out the US$250,000 transplant surgery. So far Hill, along with help from her family and friends, has raised J$433,000. It is still a long way off from the $25 million needed and she is asking for more help. Donations can be made at BNS account number 813632.
"After a couple of years, the body starts to deteriorate and develops complications. As for the children, it is not fair to them. There needs to be some improvement in the technology so persons are not resigned to doing dialysis for the rest of their lives. It is as if your life is finished," Hill said.