News

Mother of two struggles to raise funds for life-saving surgery

Thieves stole tins with donations for surgery

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 17, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A 36-year-old mother of two is now racing against time to secure the near $1 million needed for a life-saving open heart surgery.

However, as the three-month window for raising the money draws to a close, Cherine Allen-Powell says she has no other option but to appeal to others to give her that chance at life.

Last November, Allen-Powell said that she was told by a doctor at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) that if half of the funds is found within three months or less a date could be set for her surgery.

However, she is still unable to make the first payment and can only hold out hope that she will be able to source the funds by month end.

Documentation from UHWI indicated that it will cost approximately US$3,250 for items relating to the surgery and an additional $522,200 for hospital fees.

Allen-Powell said pastor of the Holiness Born Again Church in Greenvale, where she worships, contributed towards her medical cost but she is still nowhere close to the $1 million needed.

The struggle to find money coupled with some setbacks along the way often makes her feel like giving up, however, the strong desire to remain alive for her children keeps her going.

And if her situation was not bad enough, she has had to suffer further setbacks as thieves made off, on two separate occasions, with tins she had at the gas station where she works in Mandeville, to solicit donations.

"I am hoping to do this surgery as soon as possible because I was told by my doctors ...that my heart is collapsing. It has since been enlarged, blocking the arteries and minimising the blood that is being pumped to the heart. Thus, making the heart weak and unable to perform its duties efficiently," Allen-Powell said in a letter that she has been circulating to companies and individuals alike.

She told the Jamaica Observer that she is sometimes weak, short of

breath and feels like she is staggering when tired.

Consultant cardiac surgeon at the University of the West Indies Hospital Dr Roger Irvine confirmed that Allen-Powell is a patient at the institution.

He told the Observer that while the suggested three months is not a strict deadline, it is recommended that the surgery is done as soon as possible.

"It is best if surgery is done within a certain time," he said.

In Allen-Powell's case, Dr Irvine said that two of her valves are not working, she is at risk of heart failure and generally her "quality of life" is impacted.

The Mandeville resident said that she has been told by her doctors not to engage in strenuous activities that require a lot of energy.

But although, ideally, she should have given up her present job as a janitor, that is just not an option at this time.

As a compromise, Allen-Powell said she could only afford to reduce the number of days that she now works.

Having fallen ill on the job, Allen-Powell said she was further urged by doctors at the Mandeville Regional Hospital to avoid exerting herself.

"Dem (the doctors) beg mi, if mi nuh have to tek up leaf, nuh do it," she said.

Allen-Powell said that she has the moral, physical and emotional support of friends and loved ones including her husband Anthony, her daughters Akalia, 11 and Kacian Thompson, 17.

However, the financial support is critical and she is trying to remain positive that some promises made to her will bear fruit in time for the surgery to be done.

Allen-Powell said it has been many years of difficulty leading up to her current condition as she has been on medication since she was diagnosed with a heart condition at age 15.

Persons willing to help can make contributions at the COK Mandeville branch to account number 5908949.

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