St. John’s, Antigua: Monday, August 9, 2021: A visibly-moved Laurie Pelle, accompanied by Social Activist, Mary John, accepted a symbolic donation check of EC$88,450 from the Calvin Ayre Foundation (CAF) on behalf of his sister, Cathya Pelle, who fell from the second floor of the abandoned building, formerly known as the Miami Supermarket on All Saints Road, on Tuesday, July 27.
Cathya, 33, who suffered a broken neck and was rendered paralyzed due to the fall, was rushed to the Sir Lester Bird Mount St. John’s Medical Center (SLB MSJMC) at around 11:00 that night. At the time of her misfortune, Cathya was said to be living upstairs the said abandoned two-storey building.
A tearful Laurie Pelle, who accepted the symbolic donation on his only sister’s behalf during a brief handover ceremony at Canada Place over the weekend, had to compose himself a few times before he could express his sentiments.
“In addition to funding the surgery and hospitalization fees,” Kirwan added, “Ambassador Ayre also authorized flying in Consulting Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Mark Prempeh, from the UK. Dr. Prempeh arrived on island on Saturday afternoon and the 7-hour surgery, which began at approximately 9:45 on Saturday night, was performed at Medical Surgical Associates.”
“Today, I am here at Canada Place on behalf of my sister, to thank Mr. Calvin Ayre for such a big donation toward my sister’s surgery,” he said. “Much appreciated, Sir. You’re a very good man, for coming so fast towards my sister’s needs. ‘Nuff gratitude; much appreciated, Sir. ‘Nuff manners and respect. Thanks to you once more.”
Pelle also showed his gratitude to Mary John for reaching out to CAF on his family’s behalf and also had this to say: “I’d like to thank Ms. John; my new best friend. Without her help, all of this wouldn’t have happened. After I’ve seen how she puts out herself for vagrants and missing kids and all that, I see she’s a serious lady in the society for wanting to see good for people.”
Ayre Group Media Relations Specialist, Jamilla Kirwan, said, “There are times when CAF is unable to assist because as much as we’d like, we can’t help everyone. It’s never an easy decision to turn someone down. But when it’s a yes, I think that’s when I really appreciate my job.”
According to Kirwan, when Social Activist Mary John contacted the Foundation on Cathya and Laurie’s behalf, a rationale was immediately sent to CAF’s board due to the urgency of Cathya’s situation. Ambassador Ayre’s response came back in quick time. “His exact words were, ‘We’re going to help this person. Nobody is beneath some dignity in their life when something like this happens,’” she said.
According to Dr. Prempeh, if Cathya had not undergone this surgery, the nerves that control the muscles of respiration would have been affected, resulting in the inability to breathe independently. The challenging operation is referred to as a Posterior Cervical Reduction and Fixation, which provides realignment and stabilization of spinal segments and involves removing the damaged disc and inserting a cage.
“After the surgery,”Prempeh said, “Cathya was able to move her left elbow. She is breathing on her own and doesn’t fully require using the hard collar to support her neck. Caregivers can now mobilize her more and sit her up more to help reduce the possibility of chest infection.”
Cathya’s advocate and friend, Mary John, said, “I am pleased with the benevolence and humanitarian assistance offered by the Calvin Ayre Foundation. They have demonstrated that kindness, empathy and generosity of spirit are still enduring values in our country. A decision to help Cathya was made within such a short time and I am indeed thankful.”
“This is a life-changing event for Cathya and her family,” Prempeh added. “The hope is that with rehabilitation, proper nutrition and other specialized care, she may be able to control an electric wheelchair and regain some form of independence. I am happy to have been a part of an operation that helped to save a life.”
“On behalf of Ambassador Ayre, we at the Calvin Ayre Foundation are happy to have played our part in saving a life,” Kirwan said. “We would like to wish Cathya and her family all the best and God speed.”