Letters — 07 January 2017
Dorla Williams writes of incredible life-saving effort for Tyron Coleman

Dear Editor,

I never thought I would ever be on social media or the news media asking for any kind of help—an experience I will never forget. Imagine, you suddenly learned that you are very critically ill and was given a lifespan of about only two weeks to live if you do not undergo surgery… delicate, expensive life-saving heart surgery, and you’re bankrupt after spending all hard-earned savings and salaries on your health.

At this moment, life is far more precious than any material possession, but time is against you. Pride has no more space in your thoughts. You’ve always been kind and generous to everyone; now you are in need. Who can you turn to?

I would want to live too. An angiogram of the heart was urgently needed to confirm your already troubled news; you don’t have the money and another week has gone by. You’re scared to die and everybody is worried and frightened. For me, someone had bigger problems than mine. We played doctor and nurse after the angiogram; he checked his unstable pressure and I came for results and his daily experience. He trusted my medical background and I sought expert medical advice.

I would fear death too. While everyone else slept well, I could not sleep, fearing death anytime, and my brain kept busy turning every stone for help and medical advice. I forgot to eat, lost track of time, of days, of dates; cried a river with every dead-end confronted.

“You will live; we will get help. Money will come from somewhere, just hold on.” That was my new motto, one I had to abide by.

As a health professional, a pharmacist, my motto is always health first, to save life. Life cannot be replaced. Despite all the challenges of the family’s negativity, false gossips and lack of respect for my professional life, quitting was not an option, ‘cause giving up meant death and guilt.

Health City hospital became the only and best option—the only hope. Belize has always looked to Central America (despite the language barrier) and the US for medical referrals and aid, but I found more than just professionals, liaising with the people from Health City Hospital in Cayman Islands, a Caribbean country with a more advanced and cheaper medical care for cardiac patients. I found a people of great love and care for others. I was a complete stranger; so was Tyron Coleman, my brother-in-law.

The actions and responses from Hemant Balgobin, the Regional Sales Manager, and Dr. Binoy, the Chief Cardiac Surgeon, were unprecedented and I have never heard of such an experience from Central America in all my seventeen years in the medical profession in Belize. However, I stand to be corrected.

I recalled the very touching words from Hemant two days before my brother-in-law’s arrival in Cayman: “Dorla, I don’t think I can live with myself if your brother-in-law died.”

Our first contact with Health City Hospital, Dr. Marjorie Culbert (International Patient Care Team) and Dr. Ravi (Cardiologist) was through the Joseph family, a Belizean family. The Joseph brothers’ recommendation was based on their personal experience at Health City hospital. Herman and Eustace Joseph were very kind and supportive.

I did my research and also gained trust in the competence of this hospital. Their professional and personal interest was immeasurable — they CARE. Balgobin was so passionate about helping us, he managed to source an air ambulance for as low as 12,800USD, a reduction from 16,730USD. The cheapest air ambulance I sourced via BERT Belize’s recommendation was 20,000USD. He also further discounted the cost of the surgery from 22,000USD to 18,000USD.

According to Mrs. Burke from BERT Belize, the huge generous discounts and tremendous support were incredibly amazing and seldom. I was overwhelmed. About three doctors requested and viewed the angiogram video and Dr. Binoy was very optimistic about the expected results once surgery was done. He further assured me, two days also prior to Tyron’s departure from Belize, that he would come home alive. I was confident; I had faith in this hospital and that God was guiding Tyron to Grand Cayman.

Yes, U.S. hospitals and doctors are top-of-the-line, but the level of professionalism and hospitality (warm personal relations) coming from Cayman Islands’ Health City Hospital were above any expectations.

In less than a week of dialoguing, three days to be precise (also two days prior to Tyron’s departure from Belize), more doors opened: The Belizeans in Cayman Islands heard via the weekend news on Love FM that I was on and decided to chip in. God answered our prayers. They increased their help when they further learned from Facebook social media that our fundraisers and cries for help were still very inadequate. People were reluctant to give financial support, probably due to the recent hurricane. I was desperate to save this man’s life. He is a father figure to my boys and my elder son’s godfather. Every second of every minute mattered.

His condition was somewhat stable but deteriorating in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), Belize’s tertiary hospital located in Belize City.

The Belizean community in the Cayman Islands decided to raise the funds to pay for the surgery instead —the bigger expense, and Health City Hospital made the air ambulance possible. I was both ecstatic and emotional after receiving this news. There was finally hope that he could go to Cayman.

Based on expert advice from Dr. John Gough, cardiologist at the Buttonwood Bay Medical Clinic and Cardiac Center, where the angiogram was done, and Tyron’s consultation with top doctors in Mexico, where Gough also practiced, Mexico was not an option (since it would have also cost 45,000USD in Merida for surgery alone, notwithstanding travel expense and accommodation expense for at least one accompanying person), so Guatemala would probably not have been affordable either. He suggested a top hospital with top doctors in the U.S.

In my opinion, Tyron would probably not be here today if he had been taken to Guatemala, which my sister Lovinia supported, even after her husband’s trip to Cayman was seen to be possible—help which she was very dismissive of, but it was all beyond her control. Cayman’s help was unstoppable.

Guatemala would have probably been a premature option, as he would have needed a high level of expert care to reach any destination.

Tyron’s time was up. He almost collapsed in my home with a sudden bout of severe hypotension in the late morning of day fourteen. He was admitted in KHMH in the morning of day fifteen and emergency surgery was done on the night of day nineteen (October 25, 2016).

Finance was still a problem (bank accounts of other family members were set up to collect funds and the Belize Bank account of the Coleman couple was the main account used).

KHMH was supportive, and CEO Dr. Adrian Coyi said: “Dorla, continue on that same drive you are on. With the same momentum, you will reach places.” Our media plea was for Cayman, not Guatemala—which would have probably been a suicide attempt.

Passion and love matter! Health City hospital puts health first and saves lives. Tyron Coleman is living testimony. Tyron Coleman lived to see 2017. He is recovering well at home with his wife and daughter in Hopeville, Toledo District.

I do hope that Belize and Cayman Islands will have better health relations, as more Belizeans have now learned that there is also hope for cardiac patients in the Caribbean.

Dorla Williams,

Pharmacist, Belize

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