By Theresa Goodwin
Double amputee Lenroy Hazelwood never allowed his failing health or physical condition to affect his strive for excellence or his strong demeanour – qualities which his many friends grew to love and respect.
Even up to his death on April 11,Lumma, as he was affectionately known, continued to demonstrate a strong show of faith and courage.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Association for Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD), Bernard Warner, said the advocacy group had lost a friend, a brother and a champion.
“The entire country mourns his passing; this is a great loss for us. Hazelwood came on the scene and has made a mark by showing what we called independent living. He showed the entire country that, regardless of your disability, you can rise above all obstacles and make life if you try.
“As short as he was, on his knees he stood as tall as a lamppost shining with light on it to show the entire nation that, regardless of their challenges, you can make a difference and the possibilities are there if you are willing to try,” Warner said.
Hazelwood lost his legs more than a decade ago following an accident and a hereditary case of diabetes. But even without his limbs he was still active in the construction industry thanks to the use of prosthetics.
Warner explained that Hazelwood had been ailing for quite some time and was in and out of hospital up to the time of his death.
Hazelwood’s latest medical troubles started in 2018 when he had an issue in his left ear and sought treatment at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC).
The problem persisted despite the use of antibiotics and different medications and in April 2019 he was diagnosed with malignant otitis externa, an invasive bacterial infection.
Later that year the problems associated with the infection and other complications led to him being paralysed on the left side of his face. He underwent two surgeries, one at the hospital and another in Trinidad, but did not fully recover, according to Warner.
The former construction worker’s medical history was further compounded by his diabetes. The association had been lobbying for him to receive home care aid to ensure he was able to eat properly and take the medication prescribed for him.
Warner said while hospital staff did their best, the most important service Hazelwood needed was not available.
“Home help was what he needed at the time to assist in his recovery and he never received that. This is also one of the reasons that, as an organisation, we continue to appeal to the government for better healthcare and services for people with disabilities. Hazelwood was one of those persons who never received the services he deserved,” he said.
In 2015, the double amputee was recognised by Minister of Health Sir Molwyn Joseph for perseverance through hardship.
In January 2016, he was outfitted with prosthetic legs after a successful procedure which took place at the New England Orthotic and Prosthetic Systems Inc in Connecticut, USA.
Hazelwood was the first national to benefit from the programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and the Environment.
He was laid to rest yesterday following a service of thanksgiving at the Church of God of Prophecy.