Digicel Foundation donates $8.5m to UHWI to boost COVID treatment

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Digicel Foundation donates $8.5m to UHWI to boost COVID treatment

Friday, November 27, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Digicel Foundation recently donated $8.5 million to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) to increase its capacity to offer life-saving therapy to COVID-19 patients.

The foundation said the money was used to purchase a plasma-apheresis machine, which is currently a leading part of treatment for severely or critically ill COVID-19 patients in other countries.

The foundation noted that the new machine will double the capacity of the hospital to apply this method of therapy, which uses the antibodies of a person who has recovered from COVID to treat people with the illness.

Chairman of Digicel Group and Patron of the Digicel Foundation, Denis O'Brien said, “Jamaica has proven that it is on the cutting edge when it comes to COVID-19 protocols, and as a part of Jamaica's business community we feel that we have a duty to empower our doctors with cutting-edge technology, so that they can continue to offer the best care possible.”

“We all want to see Jamaica and the world return to normal but, until then, we must ensure that our doctors are well-equipped in the fight against COVID – this kind of innovative therapy is where that starts,” O'Brien said.

According to the foundation, the apheresis system will include additional parts to allow for paediatric collections in the system. The machine will also have various applications beyond treating COVID.

Head of Department, ICU & Anaesthesia, at UHWI, Dr Kelvin Metalor noted that this equipment will bring considerable savings to the health sector, citing the example of a soldier who some years ago needed such treatment and had to be sent overseas at a cost of US$2 million.

“All departments at UHWI are profoundly grateful,” he said, noting: “the people of Jamaica and beyond will benefit from this”.

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