The relatives of a young East End family up against tough odds have launched a public appeal to help defray rising medical bills.
Last week, the extended family of Brian Rigby, after years of struggling quietly to pay enormous hospital bills, appealed to the public for assistance.
Mr. Rigby, 37, is embarking on an expensive and nerve-wracking journey to receive a new heart and lungs.
Following an appeal on a local radio station, contributions from listeners from all walks of life poured in to assist the young husband and father of a six-month-old son.
Even after Mr. Rigby’s health issues became serious, the family did not publicly appeal for help, according to his mother-in-law, East End’s Cynthia Scott.
“We kept it right here in the family,” she said, thanking her East End church and the Adventist Church in general for their support.
Mr. Rigby’s serious health problems began in 2011 when while working as a security officer, he inhaled fumes from cleaning chemicals being used in the building he was in. The chemical poisoning triggered pneumonia, and which his family says exacerbated and accelerated his otherwise latent lupus.
Mr. Rigby’s insurance was based in his native Turks and Caicos and hospitals in Cayman did not qualify under that scheme, so after intensive care and stabilization in Cayman, he returned home to the TCI in 2012, accompanied by his Caymanian wife, Sonya.
Since then, however, he has been doing the rounds of hospitals in Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
It was while he was in hospital in the Dominican Republic in 2015, while in the ICU for 13 days that the extent of his heart damage was discovered, as well as the devastated state of his lungs.
The company for which he worked in Cayman covered the cost of Mr. Rigby’s initial hospitalization in 2011. However, the combination of hospital costs and medications since then has had severe financial consequences for Mr. Rigby and his family.
A press release states Mrs. Scott-Rigby, a qualified architect who worked in a number of local architectural firms before teaching art at a high school in Turks and Caicos, returned to Cayman in December 2015 to await the birth of the couple’s first child, Nathaniel, and Mr. Rigby followed in January 2016.
By mid-February, however, Mr. Rigby’s health took a turn for the worse and complications landed him back in hospital at Health City. His TCI insurance was not applicable here, and his local family took care of his bills at Health City, where he underwent tests and medication trials.
His last stay at Health City was over the recent 4th of July weekend, where he spent a day in ICU and the remaining four days on the general ward, receiving new prescriptions for expensive medications, and resulting in a bill of $8,000.
The broadcast on Tuesday, July 19, and Thursday, July 21, on Praise 87.9 radio station was the first public appeal by the family, which raised about $2,300, not including promised donations.
“We have been through some serious expenses, but every time God has seen us through,” said Mrs. Scott-Rigby.
“I believe that God has given us this trial because he knew that he could rely on us to trust Him.”
The family said it is especially grateful for the prayers and thoughtful support from the people of the East End community, throughout Grand Cayman, and around the world.
During a prior Health City hospitalization, in mid-February of this year, the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Turks and Caicos Mission of Seventh-day Adventists assisted with the purchase of a bigger oxygen concentrator with constant flow. Mr. Rigby’s latest hospital visit, at which he underwent a risky procedure satisfied his TCI insurers, who will be covering his transplant surgeries, that there was no alternative but to proceed with the heart and lung transplants.
Mr. Rigby will be heading back to TCI soon to finalize his paperwork and then will take another medevac trip to a yet-to-be confirmed location to await the transplants. He will be accompanied by his wife, who will not be able to work for the duration as she takes care of Nathaniel.
“We don’t know how long they will be waiting for the transplant,” said Ms. Scott. “The doctors have told us that could take up to two years, based on the experiences of others.”
Ms. Scott said that they continue to trust in God and the generosity of Cayman and will be writing personal letters. Last week, the family launched an appeal for a small personal contribution from those who are moved by their plight.
“As Sonya will need money to live on while she is with Brian, we thought a $1-a-month sustained contribution would be a big help,” Ms. Scott.
As Mr. Rigby prepares for the next phase of care on a positive note, he is now pain free and no organs other than his heart and lungs have been affected.
However, it is clear, his doctors have said, time is of the essence. The side effects of the medications are beginning to affect his sight and have brought on diabetes.
“Sometimes I am up and sometimes I am down – but mostly I am up because of the encouragement of everyone around me – my family and friends,” said Mr. Rigby.
“I have learned to adapt to what I need to do. God has sustained me through it all and He will continue to do the same. I believe that this battle has already been won.”