Angelic intervention is how cancer patient Krissa Bissoon has described her opportunity to return home from The Bahamas after MovieTowne owner Derek Chin made what seemed impossible a reality.
The elation of touching down on home soil for Bissoon on Monday was priceless. In a Facebook post hours after arriving from the Bahamas, where she had been stranded by the closure of T&T’s borders due to COVID-19, Bissoon was appreciative of Chin and Minister of National Security Stuart Young for getting her back home after more than a month of trying.
“I screamed with joy because I have been praying and praying for a miracle to happen, God answered my call and sent two angels, one being the minister and the other Mr Derek Chin. My journey to return home has left me desperate and to be placed in a situation where it was granted by these earth angels is beyond me. Mr Chin’s lawyer, Mr Gadsby, who was instrumental in organising the fine details of pick up from The Bahamas for myself, left me feeling that there is still so much hope in the world.”
Bissoon’s plight was first highlighted by Guardian Media by senior journalist Kevon Felmine almost two weeks ago. Bissoon had taken up a new job in Nassau, Bahamas and while there was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent emergency surgery in late March. The surgery was unsuccessful but by that time she also could not recover in time to return before T&T closed its borders.
It was only after she made her story public that Young granted her an exemption to return home nearly two weeks ago. However, with no commercial airlines operating she needed to find an alternative way home. An attempt to organise an air ambulance fell through but it was the selfless act of Chin that made it possible for Bissoon to return home.
The businessman, after learning of her plight, flew in a private jet from Miami, USA, to Nassau where he picked up Bissoon and brought her home.
“I am so happy to be back home and more importantly as a humanitarian gesture, I decided to pick her up on my way from Miami because I know how hard it was to be sick and be in another country,” a humbled Chin told Guardian Media in a telephone interview yesterday.
“I left Miami about 11 am and stopped off in Nassau where we refuelled and picked up Krissa. I know how she felt because I have been away from Trinidad since February due to medical reasons, so I was happy to get through to come home and happy to help her too.”
Chin added, “I had a surgery in February and have been recovering since then and I knew if I did not get to come home now then it would not be till July. Unless you go through this feeling of being sick and in another country, no one can really understand what you are talking about. There were other Trinidadian patients at the hospital where I was in Miami that wanted to come home. There was this lady with Hodgkin disease and she wanted to come home. I wish I could have helped her.”
Chin’s lawyer Hayden Gadsby said they had applied for an exemption to come back to T&T in late April and only got final approval on Sunday night, paving the way for Chin to return home. Gadsby said he also had to work with Bahamian authorities to ensure Bissoon was picked up.
Bissoon said she did not sleep the night before she was picked up by Chin and was also grateful for the assistance from the Bahamian government. On her Facebook post, she said she is now quarantined by the State and is hoping to get treatment by an oncologist gynaecologist at the St James Hospital.
Chin meanwhile told Guardian Media that he had initially asked to self-quarantine due to his fragile health.
“I am COVID-19 negative, I did two tests before arriving in Trinidad. But the Government told me I had to be quarantined by the State, so Krissa and I are being kept at the Cascadia. I have been placed in a room under guard,” Chin said, adding there were armed soldiers at the entrance of the hotel.
Chin said he has since asked to be relocated to another floor as several Cuban nurses in T&T to help with COVID-19 treatment were on his floor and he wanted to minimise contact with people due to his condition.
Guardian Media sent questions to the Ministry of Health Communications Department asking why the Cascadia hotel was chosen to quarantine Chin and Bissoon and not the other step-down facilities? A text message was also sent to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, asking if Chin and Bissoon were quarantined at Cascadia due to their underlying medical conditions and why they were not accommodated at the other step-down facilities instead.
After Deyalsingh failed to answer our first call at 1.10 pm, a female voice answered the phone at 2.49 pm and indicated that Deyalsingh was in a meeting and would respond to the question when he emerged from the meeting. However, up to press time Deyalsingh had not responded.