Cry for Help
An emotionally distraught mother, whose son is battling a rare blood disorder, is calling on Barbadians to offer urgent financial assistance, and make blood donations to help save her offspring’s life.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this morning, 43-year-old Carolann Sobers-Skeete, whose son Joshua Sobers-Henry, a local soccer player, was recently diagnosed with the blood disorder aplastic anaemia and is at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he is “deteriorating at a very fast rate”, is hoping her prayer will be answered because “Joshua needs to get to the United States for urgent treatment”.
“He is kind of weak because he needs blood and platelets today. He is on drips. He gets so many sticks. If he gets a cut he will bleed out; so we have to be careful he doesn’t get any bruises or any cuts. His immune system is really down right now,” said the tearful mother.
Volunteers are being encouraged to donate blood at the National Blood Collecting Centre in Ladymeade Gardens, St Michael, between 8 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on weekdays or 8 a.m. and noon on Saturdays. Meanwhile, monetary contributions may be made to account #1259970 at City of Bridgetown Credit Union, Manor Lodge, Green Hill, St Michael, or Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown branch.
Sobers-Henry, a 16-year-old goalkeeper and member of the Barbados Soccer Academy under-17 youth team, and Coleridge & Parry School student who plays for the school team and the St Lucy Constituency soccer side, was diagnosed shortly after he inexplicably started having regular headaches from the end of November.
According to his mother, at first it was thought he just had the flu, but later tests showed positive for the rare blood disorder after his eyes, tongue and fingertips all turned white one day. Currently, the soccer player is receiving blood transfusion to manage his blood cells and platelets when blood is available. He is AB positive, which is not a common blood type.
Jabez Jack Bovell, chief executive officer of the Barbados Soccer Academy in a Press statement noted that Barbadians should do everything to give Sobers-Henry blood because “we are a community and need to look after one another”.
“Time is critical now for his survival,” said Bovell.
Bovell, a past Queen Elizabeth Hospital biomedical engineer
who indicated he had also done biomedical equipment research at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, United States, said that in order for Sobers-Henry to get treatment, he and his mother, must go to the United States to the National Institute of Health (NIH) as soon as possible.
Aplastic anaemia is an extremely rare blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells and if left untreated, has a high risk of death. The transfusions for Sobers-Henry are temporary as he needs to start stem cell treatment as soon as possible –– if he is to successfully overcome the disease.
“In Washington he will get a stem cell treatment for a while. It is a research hospital so they do this all the time. It was just to get them to accept the case –– which they have. They are just waiting for him to come to start, and even then it all depends on how the body reacts to the treatment because if it doesn’t [respond positively], then we have to look at doing a bone marrow transplant,” said Sobers-Skeete.
Sobers-Henry’s mum, the mother of three, indicated that her Joshua appeal, running for a short period now, had been receiving good response thus far, for she had been contacted by a few local charities willing to offer help, including people’s going to the blood bank to donate blood.
After the six-month stint in Washington, with everything going well, he would come back home Barbados; but he would have to go back up north every six months for a check-up. It is going to be a really long road.
“I am not only [here] as a mother, but a wife. I have my husband and my other two children here. It is going to be really hard to leave my family behind; but I have to do it for him,” Sobers-Skeete said.
She noted that while she was thankful for the response, it was difficult to see her second child in his current state. Sobers Skeete said her son was not only in lots of pain but was also “down because he is not playing football and he is not at school with his friends”.
“I just try to be positive every day and believe the best will happen, but right now I really miss my football,” the 16-year-old custodian said.
People interested in offering any further assistance may do so through contacting Sobers-Skeete at 439 8218 (home), 837 4091 (cell) for any more information.