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Joel Jeremiah’s Mazda sedan that flipped.

KEVON [email protected]

While many people hope to wake up to presents under their Christmas trees on Friday, Joel Jeremiah’s only wish is to walk again.The year 2020 has been hard-hitting, and for 34-year-old Jeremiah, who suffered a broken leg during a “hit and run” vehicular incident in Chaguanas back in February, it was life-changing.

Jeremiah required several operations, and although doctors can perform the surgeries locally, it’s been 10 months.

He told Guardian Media that doctors had not given him a date for his final surgery and scheduled his next clinic appointment for April 2021. It was around 1.30 am on February 24 when Jeremiah had just dropped off some people in Chaguanas and was returning to his home in La Brea.

He recalled bright LED lights approaching from behind and the passing car hitting the front of his Mazda 3 sedan as it passed. The impact sent his car skidding and flipping off the Uriah Butler Highway near Bhagwansingh Hardware. The offending driver sped off.

Blessed with survival, he dragged himself out his car, but his misfortune was not over.

Two men rushed across and pulled him to the roadside, only to rob him while he grimaced in pain from his torn flesh.“They put me to lie down, took my phones, sneakers, chain and watch, and they ran off. I was conscious of everything at the time. After that, a lady came up from under the flyover. She helped me up by putting my hands around her should and took me down by the flyover. She contacted an ambulance, and they took me to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex,” Jeremiah said.

So severe were his injuries that doctors performed a skin graft and inserted an external fixator in his leg three days later. He required another procedure to remove the external fixator and the final surgery to fix his bones back in place. “They said they had to order the part and since then I am waiting. That was since March. They called me and told me to check them back next April for a clinic date, nothing about the surgery. They stopped seeing me because of COVID-19, but I do not feel it is that because they are seeing people still,” he said.

The year continued to be a challenge for Jeremiah. His company laid him off, and he said they refused to sign a Loss of Earnings form that would allow him to receive payments from the National Insurance Scheme. He had to move out his home in La Brea to be closer to the hospital and would use what little money left to pay someone to take him around and pay rent. “I have to pay a driver to get around. I have to move with crutches. It is a lot of pain. I have been on painkillers since being discharged from the hospital.” Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he raised $25,000 to remove the external fixator, which was done privately on September 8.

However, the final procedure requires another $20,000, and it is already a struggle to raise enough money to cover his bills.“I just need to get the part and final surgery done. They have other options, but I believe they do not want to do the surgery. They do not even want to transfer my treatment to San Fernando, which I wanted because I am from La Brea. It would cost $20,000 to do privately, but I am not working and cannot get money from the NIS.” Guardian Media made several attempts to contact the North Central Regional Health Authority’s Corporate Communications Department but was unsuccessful.