This is to thank Dr. Gregory Richmond-Peck for writing in on this sensitive subject — the need for resident neurosurgical care for our population. As he so ably said, brain-injured patients need immediate medical intervention if they are to survive at all, much less to achieve any quality of life.
Even in the case of my own son, who was profoundly brain-injured, his chances of making some recovery, his US neurosurgeon had said, were dramatically diminished by the time it took to transfer him overseas – even though I have no complaints about that process – they acted as fast as they could. And I will always be grateful for all the Cayman Islands Hospital did before and after he left its care.
I was told by another mother, whose 16-year-old son had been injured simply by falling, that he could have survived with a normal life if he had had immediate, appropriate neurological interventions.
And these sorts of accidents can happen at any time – under any circumstances. While I was at Jackson Memorial Trauma Centre in Miami, a man who had fallen from the top of a five-foot ladder was rushed in. His head was full of blood and had he not had access to the medical care he needed, he would have likely died.
There was the recent case in which a woman injured her head on the showerhead. Fortunately, her life was saved by a visiting neurosurgeon.
We are now sharing in the grief with the family of the niece of actress Vanessa Redgrave who died from injuries received in a skiing fall.
Right now, brain injured patients like these have a bleak outlook in the Cayman Islands.
I often say it is the price we pay for living on a small island, but it just seems to me that, with the local frequency of accidents involving brain injuries, we could regard this as a matter above and beyond economy. After all, what price can be put on a life?
I was heartened to read recently of a visiting neurosurgeon saving the life of the same woman mentioned above who had hit her head on the showerhead, but I got the impression that he would be travelling back and forth. While the timing of his visit was fortuitous for this woman, accidents don’t happen on schedule, as we know.
What we need is a continuous service and I hope that this subject will continue to generate discussion and interest so that some solution that will increase chances of saving lives and assuring quality of life can be achieved.
We are all vulnerable, the brain is fragile, and no one knows what the future holds.
E Patricia Ebanks