By Carlena Knight
National cyclist Andre Simon is slated to leave the country this weekend to access medical care in a US facility.
His brother, Dwayne Simon, announced the news on the Good Morning JoJo sports show on Friday.
He explained that there are a few kinks to be ironed out before they can confirm which day he will be leaving, but it is highly likely he will be departing this weekend for the Tirr Memorial Hospital in Houston, Texas.
“Leading up to that, there is still a payment required for the [air] ambulance, so we are hoping that goes through as soon as possible. As soon as that goes through and the air ambulance works out their logistics, then the hospital will assign a bed number, and once we have that they will schedule a plane. We think that we will be able to get him out of Antigua.
“Today [Friday] may be a bit of a hassle but tomorrow may be more feasible,” Dwayne said.
The government has made a “sizable donation” to the hospital which, according to Dwayne, was a pivotal move that helped to put things in motion for Andre to fly out imminently.
He added that the hospital has organised a payment plan with the family that will allow them to pay a specified portion of the funds upfront.
The remainder would be paid after Andre is discharged.
Simon was one of four cyclists hit by a motorcar during an early morning ride on May 8, but he was the only one in the group to suffer critical injuries and remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre until late May. A motorist from Hatton has been charged with dangerous driving.
The 36-year-old sportsman, who remains in the hospital, suffered head trauma among other injuries and was dependent on a ventilator for some time.
Dwayne, who will be accompanying his brother to the US, admitted that it has been a difficult time for the entire family. He himself has been suffering from short-term memory loss due to the extreme trauma of the situation, he said.
Meanwhile, Andre’s condition has more or less remained the same. He continues to be in a state of ‘unresponsive wakefulness’.
“Medically, we have not seen a major change from Andre over the last few weeks but we saw one important thing happen yesterday.
“You know, at first, his lungs were severely affected and he had to be intubated and he has a [tracheostomy] and for weeks they were giving him supplementary oxygen, but yesterday they were able to remove that additional oxygen and we think that is really good because it means his lungs can operate with the regular room temperature; so that is really good,” Dwayne said.
The emotional pressure is tough on Andre’s young son as well.
“Antwon was crying this morning saying he had a dream that he and his dad were walking up a hill, so he has his days when it is hard but he tries to stay strong.
“What we try to do is to keep his focus on trying to think positive and trying to keep his mind occupied. It doesn’t matter what it is, I try my best to make him focus on other things and not be worrying about his dad,” Dwayne explained.
The accident has prompted several associations, businesses and residents to support the Simon family through fundraisers, concerts and hikes in an effort to raise funds for Andre’s medical needs.
Dwayne thanked the public for their continuous support and encouraged persons to continue to donate as Andre’s road to recovery will be a long one.
“We may be in Texas for a long time so, as time goes by, we don’t know what will unfold but we are trying our best to be prepared but we can’t over-emphasise the appreciation that we have for the public and how helpful persons have been.
“It’s really heartfelt and we are so grateful,” Dwayne said.
The fundraising efforts continue this weekend with fetes like LOL and I-REP having a ‘drop box’ at the entrance for patrons to donate to Simon’s medical fund.
Other fetes like Blue Jeans, Blueve, Rise, Good Morning and D’Inclusive Breakfast Fete will do the same.
Next weekend, a glow walk will also be held by the Antigua State College in Andre Simon’s honour.
Registration will run from July 5-8 from 9am-2pm at the campus; contribution is $20.