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Melissa Griffith-Sammy

A Trinidad and Tobago national currently stranded in Curacao with four of her compatriots is desperate to return to Trinidad and Tobago, as she cannot afford the required drugs and treatment for her health issues.

Melissa Griffith-Sammy, who had a kidney transplant operation at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope Hospital two years ago, is now fearful she may not survive an extended wait for T&T’s borders to reopen.

She and four other compatriots are currently stranded in that country.

Griffith-Sammy said luckily, the Curacao government is offering them, four from Trinidad and the other from Tobago, free accommodation at the Kura Hulanda hotel in Otrabanda as part of their government’s response to foreigners stranded on the island.

Guardian Media understands that since the story of how two members of the group who had gone to Curacao for their wedding broke on April 28, the island’s tourism department has been taking an added interest in their wellbeing.

However, Griffith-Sammy must still pay for medical services and medicine. She said as a kidney transplant patient she must take medication to prevent her body from rejecting her kidneys.

However, although she has sourced some medication in Curacao, she said the cost is prohibitive. She is now fearful she will run out of money and medication soon.

“I have run out of money as I cannot afford any more medication. Without the medication, my body may reject my kidneys,” the Trinidadian told Tobago Today.

Griffith-Sammy has been out of the country for over 75 days since the Government closed the borders in March. She said she went to attend a wedding in Aruba via Curacao.

However, on her way back home, Caribbean Airlines cancelled one scheduled flight, consolidating it others, just before the borders closed.

Griffith-Sammy said she has applied to the Ministry of National Security seeking an exemption to come home but is yet to get a response.

“I applied to every ministry and eventually the Ministry of National Security on several occasions, but have not received a reply.”

She said in desperation she wrote to the Office of the President.

“The President’s Office answered wishing me well and indicating they could not help and I should apply to the relevant ministry,” the woman said.

She said the situation has taken a toll on her husband, Neil, who remains in Trinidad.

She said the couple whose wedding she attended, Dean Walters and Donna-Lisa Phillips-Walters, have been making life as “bearable” as possible for her.

“Without Dean and his wife, I would have been in a worse state mentally,” she said.

The Walters have been holding daily prayer services via their Facebook page ‘deanwalterstheambassador’ during their stay in Curacao.

Asked what she wants to happen next, the kidney patient said she wants an exemption from the Government to return to Trinidad.

However, she stressed that neither she nor any of the other nationals can afford to charter a flight to return to Trinidad and Tobago.

Efforts to reach Minister of National Security Stuart Young and Communications Minister Donna Cox, via telephone, to find out if they had received Griffith-Sammy’s exemption application, were unsuccessful as they did not return calls yesterday.

However, during Wednesday’s Ministry of Health COVID-19 virtual press briefing, Young said all Trinidadians nationals seeking to return home will be allowed to do so. However, he said they will be treated on a case by case basis, will have to foot the bill for their return and Government will manage how they return to the country.