Jeshua thanks Bajans for support
JESHUA FERDINAND, the young barbadian cricketer who was struck down with the paralysing Guillain–Barre syndrome, is due to fly home today to continue his recovery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
In an interview with the DAILY NATION, the barbados High Commissioner to the UK, Guy Hewitt, who coordinated the mission’s effort to assist Jeshua, said: “This is what having a mission overseas is about. As a community, it was imperative that we did right by Jeshua.”
The 24-year-old fast bowler, described by his peers as “a talented player with a big smile and easy nature”, travelled to the UK in April to play cricket for Mayfield Cricket Club in East Sussex. The club was recently crowned champions of the East Sussex Cricket Premier League.
The Lodge School alumnus and Carlton cricketer, played only two games for Mayfield before he became suddenly ill and was diagnosed and hospitalised with Guillain-Barre syndrome. This rare autoimmune disorder that affects one in 50 000 people worldwide is characterised by rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the body’s nervous system. While in rare cases the illness results in death, most people make a full recovery.
Reports indicate that Jeshua is showing positive signs of recovery due to his physical fitness, generally positive disposition and the intense neuro-physical rehabilitation he has been receiving.
Jeshua’s situation was complicated by the fact that last year the UK terminated the reciprocal healthcare agreement it had with Barbados.
Had it still been in existence it would have significantly offset the cost of treatment which is reported to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Hewitt, a former chairman of the board of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, praised the high quality of care provided at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital and the Burrswood Health and Wellbeing Centre. He emphasised the uniqueness of Burrswood which “provides whole person care, including nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, counselling and spiritual direction”.
“I am sure that Burrswood made all the difference in getting Jeshua to the point of readiness to return to Barbados,” he said.
There has been an outpouring of support for the cricketer that included an appeal by the Mayfield Cricket Club which got coverage on BBC TV and social media. Mayfield Club secretary Rob Sharma committed the club to trying to raise £25 000 to cover his medical costs in the UK.
These acts of generosity led Hewitt, an ordained priest, to say, “This has clearly been a case of God does not come, but he sends.”
He further noted that “equally important was the fact that the cricket club members adopted him as his own and provided much-needed community support”.
Support was also forthcoming from Barbados, where the Barbados Cricket Association played a significant role in supporting a visit to the UK in June by Jeshua’s family including his two-year-old son, Jaden.
Hewitt offered his profound thanks to them, as well as the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, which facilitated Jeshua’s transfer back to Barbados with the help of an ICU nurse; the National Council of Barbadian Associations, which donated his wheelchair; and DLP Branch in the UK, which also provided assistance.
He also thanked the Minister of Health John Boyce and the then acting Minister Donville Inniss along with Dr Dexter James, QEH CEO, and Professor David Corbin for ensuring that a neurophysical care plan was in place for Jeshua’s return to Barbados. However, he has conceded that despite all these “varied and valiant efforts”, a considerable bill remains in the UK and he has made an appeal to Barbadians at home and in the UK to give generously to this worthy cause. The Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Ltd has been approached to assist with the fundraising in Barbados.