Third cancer patient dies at GPHC

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Six-year-old Sharezer Mendonca

…doctor calls for specialised childcare professionals for cancer treatment

“HEAVEN has a new angel.” That was all Azeena Bakraj said after the passing of her six-year-old niece, Sherezer Mendonca, who was in a critical condition for some time at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Mendonca was diagnosed with Leukemia– a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. The young girl passed away on Thursday morning at the GPHC, after being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for some time.

She is the third of three children who have died after receiving the treatment for Leukemia at the Hospital. Seven-year-old Corwin Edwards succumbed on January 14 and Roshini Seegobin, three, died on January 18. The trio succumbed after an alleged adverse reaction to medication which was administered to them as part of the treatment for Leukemia.

The GPHC has since confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the deaths. During the investigation, all medical persons who were directly involved will be interviewed and the medication which was administered will be assessed. “Further, usage of that medication has been discontinued while the investigation continues… we advise members of the public to resist the urge to speculate on what is a sensitive matter and to await the findings of the investigation,” the GPHC said.

The hospital confirmed that it will continue to work closely with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Public Health, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other agencies in an effort to improve services provided to patients.

One medical professional, who wished to remain anonymous, has said that greater diligence needs to be taken when treating children, particularly children with cancer. This professional was approached by the Guyana Chronicle for help with understanding the medical aspect of the investigation. The professional could not provide any assistance in this regard since the investigation into the death of the children has not been completed and he did not wish to speculate on the matter.

However, he highlighted: “The system needs to be corrected. Cancer is not a general field, it is a specialised field that needs trained doctors in every aspect.”

He explained that all across the world cancer patients are treated with great diligence and for children, in particular, there needs to be specialised professionals to deal with their treatment. He was not undermining the capabilities of local medical professionals but stressed that children ought to be given that specialised care. “If you don’t have a properly trained, licensed professional [to treat children], then children are always going to be vulnerable,” the medical professional said.