T&T accident victim in vegetative state discharged from hospital

(Trinidad Express) Sea Lots accident victim Ryan Rampersad’s skeletal frame has a number of bed sores, he is 98 per cent paralysed – he can only move his eyes to look at a picture of his two young children.

In this vegetative state, he was discharged last week by doctors of the Port of Spain General Hospital who said he was stable and nothing more could be done to help him.

However, Rampersad remains warded after Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan intervened and instructed that he be kept and given good care.

But, when the Express visited Rampersad yesterday at ward 41, signs of neglect were very visible.

Because his entire body is paralysed, his head hangs to the left of the bed, as a result his left ear was in a decaying state.

Behind his left earlobe, there is a gaping sore hole in his head.

His left and right sides of his buttock also have bed sores as well as his left ankle.

One of his sores became infected and was oozing.

He is unable to breathe on his own and a tracheotomy tube – which is a plastic-type tube – is placed in his throat – one which his family had to purchase from a pharmacy in San Juan for $175 as the hospital had none.

Rampersad is fed fluids through a direct tube to his stomach.

He wears diapers and has to be cleaned and given a bath on his bed.

A man whose life revolved around his two children – daughter Naomi, 3, and one year old son Nyron, lies helpless in the hospital at age 20. His family prays for a miracle to return his health and strength.

Rampersad was one of the six people who was run over by an off duty policeman in Sea Lots on February 24.

That accident claimed the lives of Haydee Paul, 28 and her two daughters Shakira, seven, and Akasha, eight.

Two women – Amanda Lalla and Abigail Assing were also injured but released from hospital.

Yesterday marked the 108th day that Rampersad has been at Port of Spain General Hospital.

Last Friday, his wife – Sally Ann Rampersad, 20, and his grandmother Verro James visited Khan at the Health Ministry’s Port of Spain office and pleaded with the Minister to keep Rampersad at the hospital as they have no means or accommodation of providing the specific care that he required.

Speaking to the Express by phone, Khan confirmed that he met with Rampersad’s relatives.

“I told the chairman of the NWRHA to keep him and make sure he gets the best treatment,” said Khan.

Khan said he recognised that Rampersad’s family is in a dire situation in that the breadwinner of the family is now paralysed and there is no income to support his two young children.

The minister said he tried to get social assistance moving as the process was dragging.

Questioned on Rampersad’s condition, Khan said “he’s completely down, all that can be done is to keep him as comfortable as possible, they are keeping him alive actually,’’.

Told of Rampersad’s bed sores, Khan reiterated that he instructed that he be well taken care of.

“I understand the concerns of the family, it is severe damage that he has, the most you can do is hope and pray, there is nothing more that can be done,” he said.

Khan said he instructed that Rampersad remains hospitalised because he understands that his family are unable to take care of him.

“They cannot handle him and provide that care at home, we minding a tonne load of people in St Ann’s and their family does come and collect their cheques, this patient deserves the care,” said Khan.

“I think personally the police should come and lend assistance to the family in some way. He was a crane operator, he can no longer take care of his family, this is a case of sadness,” said Khan.

While Khan advised the hospital to ensure Rampersad is comfortable and given good care, his wife Sally Ann says the doctors keep saying that he is discharged and they cannot do anything more.

“They not seeing him, they just have him lying on the bed here,” she said.

A picture of her and their two children is taped to Rampersad’s bed frame with the hope that it would help his brain function.

She said her sister moved in with her to help take care of the children.

Sally Ann says there must be more than can be done for her husband.

Her children, especially her daughter, she said, misses their father.

Children under 12 years of age are not allowed to visit patients at the hospital.

Sally Ann said she tried to reason with the nurses to let Rampersad see his children but they refused.

“My daughter knows what happen to her father, anybody come by granny she does tell them daddy get in a accident, the policeman bounce him down. If she see a police vehicle pass she will tell everybody is the police bounce down she daddy,” said Sally Ann.

“Ryan is supposed to be getting better treatment than this, because if it was someone else, somebody important, a nurse, a doctor, they would have get better treatment,” she added.

Rampersad, she said, was a good father and husband who had a love for fishing.

In fact, he had gone to the market to buy bait for a fishing expedition and was on his way home when he was struck.

Rampersad’s grandmother said it breaks her heart to see her grandson – whom she took care of as a child in this condition.

“He lived with me since he was small, he use to sleep on my couch and when he get married he build a room at the back of my house,” she said.

“My home is a one bedroom, one drawing room, one kitchen place, nothing much. In his room, it’s his wife and two children,” she added.

James said she could not bear to see Rampersad in this state.

“I couldn’t come and see him, I couldn’t face this, it was so terrible, I am hurt, I am hurting, he was a hard-working person, as he get pay he gone Pricesmart and buy milk, pampers, everything for his children, he use to take very good care of his children,” said James.

Rampersad’s eyes were bright and opened, when the Express held his hand and called his name he responded by squeezing his fingers gently.

His wife believes that there is still hope for Rampersad and pleaded that he undergo more physiotherapy and tests as only one brain scan was done on him.

“If we ask him to blink twice when we call his name, he does do it. He also slightly moving his foot,” she said.

“We not giving up, there’s always hope,” said Rampersad’s grandmother.

Meanwhile, two State attorneys have been appointed to prosecute the police officer charged with causing the death of Paul and her daughters after he re-appeared in court yesterday.

When the matter was called before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, State attorney Marcia Lyons announced that both she and senior State lawyer, Kathy-ann Waterman-Latchoo would be prosecuting Sherwin Legere.

Legere, a policeman for the past 15 years, was charged with three offences of causing death by dangerous driving to Paul and her daughters.

Legere, of Bagna Trace, Chase Village, Chaguanas, also faces a fourth charge alleging that he “drove motor vehicle PCT 3096, in a manner which was dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances of the case”. His matter has been adjourned to July 11.

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