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On the mend

opposition MP grateful to be alive after health scare

Embattled Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard is recovering at home after undergoing “a life-saving procedure” at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) last week.

A grateful Dr Agard spoke exclusively to Barbados TODAY this afternoon, following her release from hospital yesterday.

While describing the entire medical ordeal as both “harrowing” and “difficult”, Dr Agard, the former Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Shadow Minister of Health, was full of praise for both the QEH medical and auxiliary staff who, she said, rendered “very diligent and very professional care” to her during her one-week stay.

Dr Maria Agard

Dr Maria Agard

Dr Agard also acknowledged that “there were many people praying for me and working diligently and I am thankful to all of them for their efforts”.

The Christ Church West MP was last seen publicly on December 23 when she appeared in court to challenge her recent expulsion from the BLP by the Mia Mottley-led National Council.

At the height of the bitter political battle, there were no outward and visible signs of her ongoing health challenges which first emerged ahead of the 2013 elections, but subsequently subsided.

However, 2015 would prove to be more than a politically challenging year for Dr Agard whose condition reportedly got progressively worse over the Christmas period, forcing her to seek urgent medical attention.

“By Old Year’s Day, I really knew that I was very, very ill,” said Dr Agard, in explaining her absence from her constituency and the national political stage since the start of the year.

Her illness, which necessitated “several” hours of surgery and a series of blood transfusions up until last Sunday, has also affected her dental practice.

However, Dr Agard, who said she suffered a “harrowing” complication of a pre-existing condition, is not about to give up the fight – neither personally nor professionally.

In fact, if anything, her illness has made her more determined than ever to agitate for what she sees as right.

“Even in the midst of my illness, there were the obvious shortcomings that could not be ignored,” she said of her recent experience at the QEH, which opened her eyes not only to the need for a greater national health budget but also for “a comprehensive assessment of health administration to ensure that the isolated difficulties that are encountered are addressed”.

On a professional level, Dr Agard, who started her dental practice in the midst of dealing with health challenges, said illness has always been her impetus.

“It has always been the force behind me living my life to the fullest. I am driven, and I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope, and my hope has never impeded the goals that I have set for myself.

“If anything, my health challenges have been the stimulus that has forced me to be more forward thinking, more determined, more aggressive, because I believe individuals ought to live a life of purpose and that is what I have always endeavoured to do,” she told Barbados TODAY.

Pressed on whether it was worthwhile for her to continue on in politics given her medical record, Dr Agard said: “It’s a life worth living. My primary goal has been to motivate others to live their best constructive lives, pursue success and be  a source of service to their community and country in spite of facing their own personal challenges.  It is a goal I have had to practice for years and a reality which makes me determined to live my life to the fullest in spite of battling health issues.

“I am used to being challenged. My entire life has been a battle against the storms. I am inspired by those who faced greater challenges yet made lasting contributions to mankind.

I too am a survivor determined to make my mark.

“I am an established health professional, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a mentor, motivator, community servant and politician. I understand my duty to serve my country, to be a worthwhile citizen of Barbados. Nothing will stop that. Not even illness,” she told Barbados TODAY.

As for her ongoing legal battle with the BLP, she said: “I am conscious of many Barbadians who have been wrongfully dismissed from their jobs, with no recourse, because they worked for employers who felt they were above the law. But we are a nation of laws, which must be upheld, by the ordinary citizen as well as the most powerful master. No one should feel comfortable believing that they are above the law. If it happened in the past, an educated Barbados has a collective responsibility to ensure that brutish behaviour has no place in our future. Hence, my case will continue, for many reasons, but none more important than to preserve our tradition of democracy, adherence to the law and respect for the equality of mankind.”

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