Please permit me to extend my sincere condolences to the family of Beyoncé Ross, the 15 year old champion cyclist.
Editor I do wish to use this letter to comment on the inequalities in Guyana. I saw in the media that the Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally was admitted to GPHC with a little chest pain. I am sure she was admitted to intensive care which was clearly not medically indicated. I also read that she is scheduled to travel overseas for further medical treatment. I am sure the taxpayers will foot the bill.
Compare and contrast that to 15 year old Ms. Ross. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour three months ago and had to suffer in Guyana. I am no neurosurgeon. I do not know the prognosis. What I do know is that if she had any political connection with any of the political parties she would have been flown overseas. It is inequalities like this that gets me angry. It is inequalities like this that made me hate Guyana. It is inequalities like this that made me describe Guyana as a wasteland.
Ms. Ross was diagnosed brain dead and was placed on life support. In layman’s terms she was dead. Why place her on life support? What were they hoping to achieve? Why give the family unnecessary suffering and false hope? They completely missed the boat. They waited three months to act. Ms. Ross likely had hydrocephalus (fluid around the brain) and likely her brain was forced down into the spine from the increased pressure from the fluid. That’s terminal. Nothing could have been done at that stage. Placing her on life support was a complete waste of time. The only circumstance that would indicate a patient like that going on life support was if there was an organ donation and time is needed to harvest the organs. That’s the only indication. What Ms. Ross needed was to be placed in a hospice and not intensive care. Placing her in intensive care with zero chance of survival was cruel to her and her family.
It is this sort of inequality I had experienced as a dirt poor orphan that made be develop such a dislike for Guyana. There were rules for the poor and rules for the rich. I will tell you two experiences I had. I was once part of a Queen’s College whatsapp group. One of my former schoolmates placed on the forum the case where 106 candidates wrote the driving theory examination and 207 passed. Some of my privileged former QC buddies started to boast that when they were 15 years old their parents brought home their licences and advised them to drive carefully. No theory test was done. No driving test was done. Compare that with my experiences. The police would harass poor young innocent ghetto youths every day. That’s what I saw. That’s what I experienced. No privileges for us from the police. When I highlighted this inequality many saw it as me having an issue with rich people. I don’t. I have a problem with inequality. Also in that very group one of my former schoolmates who resides in Canada and happens to be of Indian descent experienced what we all believed was racial discrimination. My comment was that as a black man in a predominantly white country these sorts of things happen all the time but it is important to challenge it in an intelligent and dignified way. My Indian former schoolmates took umbrage to me calling them black people. They would wish to be characterised as brown people. Ridiculous nonsense. Next time they pass through JFK airport and they are stopped for ‘special treatment’ they should say we are not black, we are brown. Let’s see how far that will get them.
In closing, I would say Guyana has a far way to go in terms of equality. The experiences of the rich are different from the experiences of the poor. I feel for Ms. Ross, her parents and brothers. I sympathise with them.
Dr. Mark Devonish MBBS MSc
Consultant Acute Medicine
Nottingham University Hospital, UK