All 50-year old Ruth Hurst-Duncan wants is $50,000 more to get heart valve replacement surgery that must be done without blood transfusion in accordance with her religious belief as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Without the surgery, she has months to live.
She is making an appeal to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) for further medical financial assistance.
On September 10, 2019, she received a pledge for just over $104,000 from the THA’s Division of Health Medical Assistance Review Committee (MARC) for the surgery.
Propped up on her bed with pillows with a hardened belly and swollen body, she told Guardian Media she is “very grateful” for the THA’s help.
“All I am begging for now is a little more money,” she said, adding “I did what I could do as I cannot work or stand upright for a long time. I get a public assistance grant and try to help myself when I can.”
She has also raised $30,000 through donations and Bar-B-Que sales.
Her funds coupled with the money from the THA, still fall short of the $178,000.00 needed for the surgery. The shortfall in funds is approximately $50,000.
The Scarborough woman, who suffered a bout of rheumatic fever as a child, did a heart valve replacement surgery in 2009 in the Mt Hope Hospital. She was given a pig’s value, but it has since collapsed.
Although the surgery is still available in Trinidad, her religious beliefs prevent her from accessing it.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, she must now get a bloodless surgery. Her faith does not allow procedures involving blood transfusion.
Cuba offers the same surgery without blood transfusion. However, to get there and have the surgery done, she must have the total amount of money.
Health and Wellness Secretary Agatha Carrington could not be reached for comment on this issue.
Calls to her mobile phone went unanswered. Her secretary said she was in a meeting and will return Guardian Media’s call, but up to press time now was received.