DOCTORS at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) have given 53-year-old Nola Powell one week to live, unless she can come up with a sum of US$75,000 or US$130,000 needed to do a life-saving operation in either Colombia or Florida.
On February 28, Powell suffered an aneurism of the brain — a balloon-like swelling that results from a weakness in the wall of one of the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain — which suddenly ruptured and resulted in haemorrhaging.
And, with time fast running out, Powell’s family is desperately trying to raise the funds that could ensure that she lives to celebrate her 54th birthday next month.
But Powell is now admitted at the UHWI, falling in and out of consciousness, unable to do much, including feeding herself.
“It affects her cognitive movements, her intellect — everything,” Powell’s daughter Kadian Murray told the Jamaica Observer on Monday. “So it causes confusion and all of that. Sometimes she will be alert and another time she will be out of it and not able to communicate, barely able to open her eyes, etc.”
She said when conscious, Powell complains about pain in her neck and back, and is unable to move about by herself.
“She is just there lying down. It is really, really bad. She is a strong person but because it is the brain she does not have the full use of her body. She cannot eat now; all she is taking is the IV fluid.”
Murray said that on a regular doctor’s visit, days before her mother became ill, she was given a clean bill of health except that her blood pressure was a “little high”, but not to a point where she required medication.
“So it was shocking to see that her blood pressure went up to the point where it burst a vessel,” Murray, the second of two children, told the Observer.
According to Murray, doctors gave the family a week to get things in order for Powell to go overseas for the operation, as she gets weaker by the day.
“If the bleeding on her brain is not corrected urgently she will get weaker and if she suffers another bleeding, then it can lead to a stroke or she may just die,” Murray said. “So they give us a timeline to try and get the surgery for her as soon as possible. But they say we have to get the surgery done in a week’s time because to have her longer than that would be out of the question if we want to save her life.”
The family was given two options by the medical team. Powell could either perform a craniotomy, in which a bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to access the brain, or a non-invasive procedure, where a tube would be sent from her groin area to the brain and correction to the brain done from there.
While doctors at the UHWI said they could perform the craniotomy, they warned the family that Powell could either slip into a vegetative state or die during the operation.
A letter from the hospital confirmed Powell’s condition and treatment options.
“When we went in consultation with one of her neurosurgeons, he informed us that for him to do the surgery she could go into the operation and die instantly because the aneurism was resting on some of the major vessels in the brain,” Murray explained. “So the doctor was saying the area in the brain where she has the aneurism is a very technical area and if she went into surgery he had no guarantee that she would come back out. Then he told us about the endovascular treatment, a non-invasive surgery whereby they would put a tube up from her groin area to the brain and then they would do whatever correction to the brain from there and that would give her a better chance of survival. But that operation is not done here.”
The family decided on the less risky option and has so far put together US$10,000 but say they would need at least US$65,000 to get her to a hospital in Colombia.
“I know persons may be questioning why we don’t do it here, but we don’t want to live with the guilt of putting her through that risky procedure. We could live with the part of knowing that if we had tried to raise the money somewhere, somehow, it would have given her a better chance to survive rather than just going the cheapest way and then losing her in the process. That is something that we are not prepared to live with.”
Up to press time yesterday, family members informed the Jamaica Observer that Powell had got worse as her stomach and other body parts had become swollen and she was barely responding as the bleeding continued.
“To go there all the time and see her in that condition is really heart-rending, knowing that she was a lively, bubbly and energetic person, and to see her like that breaks our hearts. To see your family suffering so much, and it’s as if your hands are tied, is so hard,” Murray related.
Persons wishing to assist Powell can make contributions to National Commercial Bank account number 474365840.