Funds sought for surgery for Guyanese man


Kwesi Nelson is running out of time. The 31-year-old Guyanese married father of a four-year-old daughter has a tumor in his right jaw which, if not surgically removed shortly, can cut off his airway and end his life.

Nelson was diagnosed in 2007 and a group of Canadian health care specialists are raising funds to bring him to London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Victoria Hospital for the complicated surgery that can last between 10 and 14 hours.

Retired University of Western Ontario (LHSC) otolaryngology department administrative officer Yvonne Triesman was made aware of Nelson’s plight while on a goodwill medical mission to Guyana last summer.

“We were in Parika when his mother approached us directly with the CT scan and a letter from a Guyanese doctor saying the surgery could not be performed in that country,” said Triesman, who migrated from Guyana in 1969. “Once we saw the pictures, St. Joseph Health Care ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Ralph Ruby confirmed the tumor and is confident that it’s benign. As it continues to grow, he can suffocate and he’s already complaining of memory loss.”

Triesman and her team are vigorously fundraising to come up with the $75,000 needed for surgery, his two-week hospital stay, associated inpatient and outpatient costs and accommodation while recovering from the operation.

“We have already raised nearly $10,000 and we are stepping up our efforts because we are trying to get him here by July 1 for the operation,” she said. “We need the money by the end of April as it will take nearly two months for him to obtain a visa to enter Canada.”

The surgery will entail removing half of Nelson’s jawbone, reshaping a piece of bone from his leg and transplanting it to reconstruct the jaw. Following the surgery, he will be subjected to a temporary tracheotomy and nasogastric tube feeding for about a week while the tissues heal.

Head and neck specialist Dr. Kevin Fung has agreed to perform the surgery pro-bono and he has been successful in having the anesthesiologist’s fee waived. Guyanese businessman Stanley Ming will cover the airfare cost.

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