Guardian story triggers help for 600-pound woman

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 03:30

Scores of citizens who were moved yesterday after reading of the plight of 600-pound Marissa Nelson in the T&T Guardian have offered to lend a helping hand.

Among those were DEHIX, an international charitable body; the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC); CEO of Pillars of Harmony; and members of the public.

Within hours of Nelson’s highlighting her battles with a condition known as lymphoedema, which has left her confined to a bed for the past four years at her Valencia home, help from as far as America started pouring in.

Her condition also generated a tsunami of sympathetic and disparaging comments on social media.

Nelson’s heart-wrenching story was published on the front page of Tuesday’s T&T Guardian, where she called on the Government to intervene and provide her with specialist medical care, urgent medication and a 24-hour caregiver.

SEE ALSO: Weighing 600 pounds, Marissa pleads for help

Touched by the outpouring of support, Nelson thanked the Guardian yesterday for publishing her story. The story was also aired on sister station CNC3 and reached over 295,000 readers on Facebook and was shared 1,169 times by 4.30 pm.

Calling from Chicago was Trinidadian-born Dennis Hicks, founder of DEHIX, who said after reading Nelson’s touching story he felt compelled to intervene.

“My eyes became filled with tears. When I saw this lady’s photograph in the paper I became lost for words. Marissa is sitting on a bed and she really needs assistance.

“I am going to send Nelson some cash tomorrow,” 73-year-old Hicks said.

Asked if he could assist Nelson in getting gastric bypass overseas, Hicks said he did not see it as a problem.

“I am going to get in contact with all the hospitals I work with and explain her ailment and we are going to get it done. This is what I have been doing for years. We help needy and vulnerable people like Nelson. But first she has to lose some weight to make all this possible to travel abroad.”

Yesterday, Hicks contacted Nelson and he gave her the assurance that help was on the way.

To his shock, Hicks said, he found out that Nelson started doing on-line courses in human and social biology, maths and English three months ago.

“She says she needs a laptop which I will ship to her to help her with her studies. She wants to go back into nursing. I kept telling her that a new day has started and not to give up hope. I even offered her a job at DEHIX to motivate her and she was quite excited.”

Nelson said after she spoke to Hicks she felt as if a load was lifted off her shoulders.

“I was a bit angry this morning after reading on Facebook the comments of a few people which were very insensitive. But my spirits were lifted after my discussion with Mr Hicks. I am praying that things will work out. A lot of people called to offer their kind words and whatever little assistance they can. I am feeling so much better now. All is not lost.” 

In 2008, Nelson who was diagnosed with the incurable disease was prescribed medication which had powerful steroids and within a short space of time she started to pack on the pounds.

By 2012, Nelson lost mobility in both legs, which are now covered in mammoth growths. These growths, the size of basketballs, sometimes erupt and ooze fluids.

Nelson has no one to attend to her needs. She lives alone and depends on the generosity of her neighbour and 

68-year-old mother, Sylvia, who is an amputee.

Although she receives $1,800 monthly disability grant and is a recipient of a $410 monthly food card, Nelson said the money was not enough to buy her pampers, bedliners, antiseptic soaps, 25 packs of baby wipes, bandages and gauze, which total about $5,000 monthly.

SOURCE: (Shaliza Hassanali)