In the hope the death of her 21-year-old son, Nicholas Noel, would not be in vain, Debra Riley has donated his two kidneys to be able to save those in desperate need of them.
A grieving Riley revealed this yesterday, during an interview with the Express at the Forensic Science Centre in Federation Park while she was awaiting the post-mortem report on her son to be completed.
Noel was shot in his head by unknown assailants on April 13, along Upper Simeon Road, Petit Valley.
He was rushed to the St James Medical Complex where he was treated before being transferred to the Port of Spain General Hospital. He remained there until April 19 when he was taken off life support. He died shortly thereafter.
However, Riley said out of every evil deed, some good had to come out, and when she was told her son could be a kidney donor, she readily informed the doctors they could remove the two vital, undamaged organs and give them to persons who needed them.
She also said her son did not deserve to die the way he did as he was a very loving young man who was always looking out for his nine other siblings.
“He was always there for his brothers and sisters. Always looking after them. Now, I’m not going to stand there and say he was perfect. He was not. He had his run-ins with the law and even spent a little time in jail for a misdemeanour he committed.
“But you see, as soon as he came out, he looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, not me and that jail thing ever again, nah. I not going back. Nothing worth that,’ and from there, he was changing his life around.
“He was working, and committed to his girlfriend and his three-year-old daughter. He just had a son about eight months ago, and his girlfriend is about two months’ pregnant. And he was working hard, doing everything in his power to provide for his family, and they gone and kill the boy just so? That isn’t right.
“And worse yet, now, three children are going to have to grow up without a father. In what world is that fair?” Riley asked.
Speaking to Express yesterday, Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan expressed his condolences to the family for their loss. However, he said he was proud to hear of the decision made to donate the two kidneys to the National Organ Unit to assist the thousands of persons in this country who were ailing and in desperate need of the organs.
“It is disheartening to hear of anyone’s loss, but the subsequent actions of the family, and the actions of several people who are in similar situations, are to be commended,” Khan said.
He explained the programme for donating organs was in effect for several years, however, it only became streamlined in 2011 when local doctors were sent to Spain for training in properly and effectively harvesting and transplanting body organs.
“This programme has been in place for a long time, but it was really since 2011 when I sought out an agreement with the Spanish embassy for our doctors to go and train in Spain on how to effectively remove and transplant these organs that we have seen such a success story.
“So instead of persons lying in wait and suffering, in hope for a live donor, there can now be more frequent situations where other persons who are dying, but with healthy kidneys or whichever required organ, can donate them, with the appropriate consent, to sick persons who need them,” Khan explained.
However, the Health Minister said what was not a “success story” was the fact that the number of persons who needed kidneys and other organs in this country was growing exponentially on an annual basis.
“This country, unfortunately, is facing an epidemic of “kidney destruction” as people are not taking care of themselves. As a doctor and as the Minister of Health, I do not want that in the next 15 years, the entire country is diseased because people are refusing to take care of themselves.
“Right now, I don’t know the exact figure offhand of how many people need a kidney in this country, but I feel safe in saying that figure is in the thousands.
“So I am once again pleading and imploring for citizens in this country to take better care of themselves. Do the right thing, eat healthy and exercise, especially if you are already suffering from hypertension and diabetes,” he said.