Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lessons in Ryan’s survival story

 Apart from the horrific deaths of young mother Haydee Paul and her two small children in that fateful accident a year or so ago, I admit I cannot recall too many of the earliest details of survivor Ryan Rampersad, except that at some point, health personnel had decided there was nothing more they could do for him and as such, he should and would be discharged.  

I recall the strong objections by his loved ones to that decision and sometime later, the intervention that led to him being relocated into the care of the St James Infirmary. 

The Express front page headline of February 24 therefore has led me to ponder on some key elements I have drawn from the amazing survival story of Ryan Rampersad.

The first is our public health institutions and personnel are more than ever, in dire need of a quantum leap forward towards facilities, integrative approaches and professional practices that can match up to current and still-evolving standards in health care.

The still-to-be functionally optimised new San Fernando Teaching Hospital, while a welcome element, offers little relief to an already severely over-burdened and outdated public healthcare network. Truth be told, it offers even less long-term hope in a culture that somehow manages to turn everything it touches into dereliction and disrepair. 

And no! Dr Fuad Khan… personally evicting patients to “make room” for more so you can repeat the cycle cannot be the solution! Ryan Rampersad is a good case study!

More importantly however, I want to highlight the power of family, love, hope, prayer, determination and persistence, even in the face of every possible obstacle. 

At the point when the very system he was left to cling to in a most precarious time of need seemed ready to give up on him, Ryan’s loved ones decided that regardless of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, family, love, hope, prayer, determination and persistence could triumph!

What a call that turned out to be! Today, Ryan’s amazing recovery is in no small part due to that decision by his family. The rest of us would without doubt have long forgotten him, perhaps occasionally remembering the earlier tragedy that was the genesis of his challenging journey.

Saving Ryan was, I believe, much more than a compassionate initiative by his loved ones.  It was and is a very poignant awakening, indeed a reminder to us all that the life of every human being is precious, well beyond the arrogance that seems to have woven its way into our social and professional fabric.

 We are not demi-gods endowed with the omnipotence to decide who lives and who dies, whose cause is worth fighting for and whose is lost. One cannot help but wonder how many more lives could have been saved had our institutions—public health, family network or otherwise, been functionally effective and had decided to not give up!

We cannot “give” life. We are therefore morally bound in whatever fields of endeavour and service we choose to offer ourselves, to always give of our very best towards the preservation, enhancement and propagation of human life. 

We have a responsibility to recognise and an obligation of conscience to acknowledge our limitations in meeting the highest of human duty one toward the other. We must further commit, with the greatest of urgency, to withholding no cost or effort in meeting these humanitarian obligations.

The joy Ryan’s young children must be experiencing to have their daddy home after so very long is most probably overwhelming. That he is still on the road to even greater recovery is a reality his relatives are obviously well committed to.

Their unquestionable love for Ryan appears to be a formidable motivator. Somehow, that love element seems to have been lost in the din of our increasingly narcissistic humanity and what a terrible loss, indeed! 

Thankfully, I believe this latest news is but one more chapter in Ryan’s “story” which is only just beginning. I believe we will hear even more remarkable updates emerging from this life that love simply refused to give up on!

So many lessons here! What can we each learn…and use, to help us as a society and as a nation on our own road to healing and recovery?

Debra J Johnson

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