Sophia Bent, the kidney patient who was thrown out of her home along with her children by her husband, and again out of her rented home while she was admitted to a hospital battling kidney problems over a month ago, died last Sunday at home.
Bent, who had pleaded through the pages of the Sunday Observer of March 1 for help to get $64,000 for dialysis treatment that may have saved her life, was only able to acquire a half of the amount, thus preventing her from doing the treatment.
The mother of four, who is from Portland, died at her aunt’s home in Thompson Town, Clarendon, where she had been staying since her discharge from the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) late February.
Six months ago, Bent was stricken with the chikungunya virus (CHIK-V) and a week into her illness her entire body began to swell. Three visits to the doctors and a blood test later revealed that her kidneys were badly damaged. She was informed that despite needing urgent dialysis, the waiting list at the KPH was long and so she would have had to wait her turn or do it privately. However, lack of money prevented her from going the quicker route.
Kemiesha Douglas, 17, Bent’s eldest child, said that her mother’s death is affecting her, as Bent never got the chance to see her grow up to fulfill her dream, and to give back to her mother part of what she had given her.
“It affect me bad, because I don’t have no mother and I always say I want my mother to live so that she can see me turn big and can give her something and so that she could say yes she proud of me,” Douglas said. “Now she not going to see me become a nurse.”
Douglas, who is now living with her grandaunt and cousin in Thompson Town along with her other siblings, said she also thinks about the fact that their mother died before seeing her youngest child celebrate his 10th birthday.
“We have no mother, no father — I think about it all the time. Lots of things I think about,” she said as she turned away in an attempt to hide the tears.
Though alive and living in Portland, Bent, along with family members had stated that the children’s father played no role in their lives and even after being served a summons to face the family court, had still done nothing.
Ironically, his voice was one of the last that Bent heard before she died.
“I called him and tell him that it was hard for me with Sophia and the four kids because I am not working and my husband not working so him must send down something for them,” Jennifer Simpson, aunt of the deceased told the Sunday Observer on Thursday. “One heap of things the man telling me… that is seven years now him and her part and that him don’t response for Sophia and all sorts of things — but is still his children. Sophia heard everything because I turned the phone up high. Just as him done talk to me, Sophia dead. It lick me head. I never know she would go so quick.”
Simpson’s daughter Kadine Simpson said she will now be responsible for Bent’s children as she cannot turn her back on them.
“I spoke to the CDA (Child Development Agency) that is why I have them. They will be staying with me now,” the younger Simpson said. “I told them that I have three kids so who will help me to maintain them? They say they are on PATH but I told them that the PATH alone cannot do. From they came here a month now is only one time they collect $4,000 and I understand that is for the four of them. So everything else is me and my mother. But I am not going to turn my back on them.”
However, the children, who have not gone to school since last year are still out of school. It is a situation that their cousin said she is trying to change. Three of them not having a birth certificate has proven a challenge.
She said that the eldest child will have to repeat even though she is near graduation age, since she has been out for so long.
“Ten persons now live in the household, so whenever I get money for my kids I just cook for everybody,” the children’s cousin explained. “We would want help with school — uniforms, school fees, books and so on.”
Collin Henry, councillor/caretaker for the Thompson Town division in North West Clarendon said he is willing to assist the Simpsons in getting the children ready and into school. He said that along with speaking to the principal of the Thompson Town High school to ensure that they begin school as soon as possible and not wait until September, he would also be providing uniforms, books, shoes and other school supplies to the younger children.
“Education is a must and one way to get you out of poverty,” Henry stated upon a visit to the home on Thursday. “That is the basic need, and in order to equip them for a better future we will have to give them that opportunity.”
One of the children should have been sitting the GSAT examination next week, but because he has been out of school for almost a year, will be unable to do so.
The funeral service is set for April 4.
However, at least one relative of the deceased is angry with the thought that relatives based overseas were able to make arrangements with the funeral home three days after her passing, and questioned where they were when Sophia needed the $64,000 for her treatment.
“Sophia just died and funeral plans already make, and that take money. If they have money to plan the funeral so quick, why when she needed the money for the dialysis they didn’t help her,” the family member said. “All she needed was $34,000 because she did get in some of the money already. So why they didn’t come forward and help her?” the family member questioned.