Zenaida Claret Urbano Taylor Mathis ||//
Reverse decision or face legal fight

Attorneys representing the family of a three-year-old girl, who was refused funding by the Children?s Life Fund for a major surgery in Rome, Italy, scheduled for next Tuesday, have signalled their intention to sue the board managing the fund.

Speaking a press conference at his office in Woodbrook yesterday, Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen announced that he had issued the Life Fund Authority an ultimatum threatening to file a lawsuit if it failed to reverse its decision in relation to Shannen Luke by tomorrow.

Central to Ramdeen?s proposed judicial review claim, is a decision by the authority on April 10, to reject Luke?s application as it found her illness to be non-life threatening.

The authority also contended that its decision was based on its policy to not honour applications made for reimbursements of medical expenses.

Describing the decision as inexplicable, Ramdeen pointed out that Section 9 of the legislation which established the fund and the authority in 2010, allowed for reimbursement payments. Responding to questions on Luke?s case raised in Parliament earlier this month, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh revealed that the fund, established by former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, contained approximately $55 million.

?The parents would have had to wait for the application to be granted or rejected and then would have to raise the $2 million for the procedure and post-operative care. That is preposterous,? Ramdeen said.

Luke, of Brazil Village, east of Arima, was diagnosed with Beta Thalassemia Major when she was nine months old.

© Zenaida Claret Urbano Taylor

© Zenaida Urbano

© Zenaida Urbano Taylor

Since then, she has been on a cocktail of medicine and has to do monthly blood transfusions. Luke is scheduled to undergo a hematopoietic cell transfusion (bone marrow transplant) at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome.

According to Ramdeen, the authority?s refusal to accept the application was partly based on the fact that her parents were able to pay the ?158,000 (TT$1.2m) to the hospital for the operation to secure the date for the surgery before making their application to the authority.

The money was raised from donations, fund-raisers and from loans and a second mortgage taken out by her parents.

?The board did not consider that they have to pay for airline tickets to go to Italy.

© Zenaida Claret Urbano Taylor

© Zenaida Urbano

© Zenaida Urbano Taylor

Did they not consider that the family has to stay with the child and cannot sleep on the streets. In this particular type of operation the recovery time is six to eight weeks,? Ramdeen said.

Referring to the authority?s claim that Luke?s illness is non-life threatening, Ramdeen said he had already retained the services of a qualified medical expert in the field, who was willing to challenge the finding if the lawsuit has to be filed.


© Zenaida Claret Urbano Taylor

© Zenaida Urbano

© Zenaida Urbano Taylor


© Zenaida Claret Urbano

© Zenaida Taylor

Tags: Venezuela