Updated: Apr 6, 2018
After experiencing prolonged acute chest pain, fainting spells and the inability to complete simple domestic duties or to work on her farm, Gwendolyn Kerr was diagnosed with abnormal mitral valve and aortic stenosis by her doctor in 2013.
The 54-year-old woman, a farmer from Kellits in Clarendon, was subsequently placed on a long waiting list in anticipation of the more than $1,000,000 surgery ... a fee miles away from her ability to pay.
However, like an angel of mercy, Novlett Davis brought down the United States-based LJDR Davis Foundation medical mission to Brandon Hill, Clarendon, for the first time in 2013, and after consultation with the then 34-member medical mission, Kerr was off to the Saint Francis Hospital in New York by December of the same year, where she completed a mechanical double valve replacement ... at no expense to her.
"The pain was unbearable, it was as if my chest was going to burst, I couldn't do anything or walk for too long, so I went to the doctor, and after some tests, they say I have abnormal mitral valve and aortic stenosis condition," explained Kerr at this year's LJRD Davis Foundation's follow-up mission.
"When the doctor tell me the cost for the surgery and how long I will have to wait, I thought I was going to die, but Miss Davis come here, I went to see them, and by December I was taken to New York for the surgery ... free of cost," a gracious Kerr told Rural Xpress.
Kerr and hundreds of residents from Colonel Ridge, Rhoden Hall, McKee, Brandon Hill, Crofts Hill, Good Hope, Jericho, Content, Top Hill, Bull Head, Santa Marie, and Peter Hill and other surrounding communities in northern Clarendon have benefited from the Novlett Davis' LJDR Davis Foundation's medical missions.
Chairman of the foundation, Novlett Davis, told Rural Xpress that she grew up in Brandon Hill - dirt poor - and felt the pangs of death after four of her 12 siblings (Loretta, Jacqueline, Donald, and Rohan) passed away from illnesses that were more or less preventive, before migrating to the United States in 1987.
"While I was in Jamaica for the funeral of my brother, I did a couple of sugar and blood-pressure tests, and I was appalled at what I saw. There were people with hypertension levels of up to 240/110 and I said to myself, 'I have to do something for the people here in Brandon Hill and the surrounding communities,'" said Davis at the recent LJRD Davis Foundation's health expo in Brandon Hill.
Davis, a registered nurse at the Saint Francis Hospital in New York, said she incorporated the LJRD Davis Foundation and began recruiting medical personnel to participate in the medical mission in Brandon Hill.
"I didn't know that chicken pox was so common in Jamaica. We treated 17 persons for the condition this morning and we also treated numerous persons with scabies. We saw a young lady with a 500-point sugar level and we are still seeing hypertension levels in the 240s, so we are doing our best to treat them," Davis add.
She said since the inception of the LJRD Davis Foundation Medical Mission, almost 100 medical personnel have volunteered in the programme and hundreds of persons have received well-needed/life-saving medical procedures.