Adrian Gillespie and his younger brother Kevin Gillespie – both from Croft’s Hill in Clarendon – fought together against the dreaded sickle cell disease for several years until Kevin died in November last year at age 22.
Now alone, Adrian, who is in need of nearly one million Jamaican dollars to cover an upcoming surgery, said he is heartbroken to know that his brother has died. He, however, is keeping hope alive.
“I feel bad to know that, at such tender age, my brother is gone – never get to experience more about life,” the 26-year-old told The Beacon. “I am not feeling good about the illness; I never know sickle cell was so bad. I am feeling bad about it, but it is something I have to live with; it is not something I wanted or went to the shop to buy or anything like that.”
Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Some effects may include swelling of the hands and feet, episodes of severe pain, and damage to organs.
Adrian’s problems have worsened. In November last year, he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis – a condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. His right hip is now badly fractured.
Doctors recommend that Adrian undergoes corrective surgery, which involves insertion of a patella claw in his right hip.
Adrian, who is unable to walk or function without help, may never walk again if the corrective surgery is not done by May 25.
He told The Beacon that the hospital fee needed is JA$350,000 and the patella claw costs about JA$425,000.
Adrian, who is a welder, explained that he has not been able to raise funds through his welding operation since late last year because he is not able to move about independently.
The following are some welding works done by Adrian, who stated that he learnt the skill while he attended Kellits High School in Clarendon:
Meanwhile, Adrian’s mother, Annette Gillespie, who is unemployed, has become her son’s permanent caregiver.
Her children’s father, Alfred Gillespie, died of a heart condition about 12 years ago.
The family’s financial resources are now virtually depleted, considering the many medical bills covered, and the burial of Kevin late last year.
In more than one way, things really have been ‘tough’ for Annette.
“If anyone could help me in the best way they can, I would appreciate it very much,” she said. “I am feeling very bad, sad, and everything in one. I want my son to get back on his feet and go on with his life in the best way.”
Persons wishing to help Adrian cover his medical bills can contact the family at 876-404-6421.
Annette, in the meantime, told The Beacon that, of the six children she has with her late husband, only the two last ones – Adrian and Kevin – are known to have the sickle cell disease.
She said the disease did not affect Kevin much, and so she was ‘frightened’ when he died at Spanish Town Hospital on 24 November 2018.
“Kevin was a nice person – easy to get along with; he had a lot of friends,” the mother said.
She further told The Beacon that, based on her experience with Kevin, she is scared about Adrian’s deteriorating condition.
“I am very scared about Adrian now that I realize how sickle cell disease really is,” the mother declared while emphatically stating that she will not give up the fight for her son.
“I have to be strong for him,” she further said.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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