President Cheddi Jagan's Medical Crisis

A Special Internet Edition of Indo Caribbean World
February 18, 1997
Stories by Sharief Khan and Nivedta Kowlessar

Dr. Cheddi Jagan
President of Guyana

Dr. Jagan stable, but condition serious

Georgetown - President Dr. Cheddi Jagan was yesterday reported to be stable, but his condition was still serious after angioplasty surgery on Sunday night.

The four-hour "balloon intervention" surgery was performed on the night of February 16 in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Jagan was flown following a heart attack the day before in Georgetown.

"He is undergoing observations and tests following a heart attack. He is in stable condition," said a spokesperson at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, where Dr. Jagan was flown on Sunday.

Sources here in Georgetown in touch with the hospital said the next few days will be critical for Dr. Jagan.

On Monday, Information Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, told the Guyana Chronicle he had spoken by telephone with Dr. Cheddi Jagan Jnr., who reported "guarded progress" in his father's condition, but said he was still "not out of the critical area."

Nagamootoo said it appeared there was slight improvement, but Dr. Jagan was "heading for another long night."

Mrs. Jagan had earlier expressed "cautious optimism" for her husband's recovery, and had said that "the next 48 hours would be critical in assessing progress in his condition."

Dr. Jagan, 78, was reported as being tired but stable when he arrived in Washington on Sunday afternoon for further checks following the heart problem he developed in Georgetown on Friday night.

He was flown by special US Army medivac aircraft from Georgetown to Panama on Saturday, and overnighted at the Gorgas Army Community Hospital, a US Military forces medical facility there.

Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Georgetown, Hugh Simon, said Dr. Jagan arrived at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington at 5 p.m. on Sunday. He was then transferred from Panama to Washington on the military's presidential C-141 large jet.

On Sunday night Dr. Jagan suffered a major collapse at 10.15 p.m., sources said.

In a statement broadcast on GBC radio and GTV television on Monday, Nagamootoo said Dr. Jagan developed "cardiac complications" that night. This "required the emergency intervention at the hospital's Cardiac Catherisation Laboratory."

Nagamootoo said Dr. Jagan had a "difficult night when he underwent angioplasty procedures for four hours to clear a clogged artery." The use of this "balloon intervention" was successful, but Dr. Jagan's blood pressure was "still not fully under control" on Monday.

Mrs. Jagan, daughter Nadira, daughter-in-law Nadia, and Cheddi Jnr., were taking turns at his bedside, Nagamootoo said.

On Monday, Dr. Jagan woke up to greet Nadira, after which he asked to see Mrs. Jagan. He was reported as being hooked up to a respiratory and cardiac support system.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who is also a medical doctor, were among those who treated Dr. Jagan at the start of the crisis on Friday night that saw him taken to the Intensive Care Unit at the Georgetown Hospital.

Luncheon spoke with medical officials at the Walter Reed Army Hospital on Monday, and was also told that Dr. Jagan's condition was stable, but serious. He was also informed that the life support system would be in use for some time. Dr. Jagan would later go through a "weaning process" so he would return unaided to his respiratory and other vital functions.

Cheddi Jnr. said medical officials at the hospital were impressed with Dr. Jagan's reaction and response: with the manner in which his father "has been fighting to get out of this difficulty."

PPP, Cabinet coping with medical crisis

Georgetown - The People's Progressive Party met on Monday at 6 a.m. to discuss the situation as Dr. Cheddi Jagan battled with heart complications in Washington, D.C.

Cabinet then met at 10 a.m., and its Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and Health Minister, Gail Teixeira, gave a full briefing on the medical situation of Dr. Jagan, the Guyana Information Services (GIS) reported.

"Cabinet reviewed information at hand and reaffirmed strong commitment to strengthening the collective leadership of the country in the absence of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces," the GIS statement indicated.

Cabinet recommended that Hinds should hold a similar briefing with the parliamentary Minority parties and other concerned bodies, GIS said.

Information Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, said the Cabinet session was "very brisk and business-like, and people went back to their respective offices."

He added: "It was work as usual."

Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Georgetown, Hugh Simon, was a central figure in the arrangement for the medical evacuation following the request for assistance to the US government from the Guyana administration.

Simon said cardiologist Colonel David Johnson, who arrived in Georgetown on the US Army medivac aircraft which was dispatched from Panama, also accompanied Dr. Jagan to Washington.

Johnson was in the team on the aircraft which, along with local doctors in charge of Dr. Jagan, had evaluated whether he was capable of making the flight.

Teixeira said the decision for Dr. Jagan to overnight at the Gorgas Army Community Hospital in Panama was "thought to be more prudent" by medical consultants. The feeling was the long flight to Washington would have been too stressful, she said.

A release from the US Southern Command army base in Quarry Heights, Panama, said Dr. Jagan spent the night in Gorgas Hospital "on the recommendation of his attending physicians."

The released added: "Because of the long flight time from Guyana to Washington - and a late departure from Georgetown, Guyana - it was thought best to pause in Panama before continuing."

Local doctors said Dr. Jagan suffered a "cardiac episode" at his official State House residence on Friday night. This led to an irregular heartbeat, doctors said.

Sources said Dr. Jagan complained about slight chest pains and feeling unwell. Doctors decided to transfer him to the Georgetown Hospital for further tests and monitoring.

Teixeira said Dr. Jagan was in "good spirits" during his brief stay at the hospital.

As Dr. Jagan left the hospital on Saturday afternoon, he waved and smiled to reporters and photographers while being put into an ambulance.

He was flown by Army helicopter to Timehri for the transfer to the US medivac aircraft.

Teixeira said the government made an official request to Washington to assist in transferring Dr. Jagan to the Walter Reed Army Hospital for "further investigations" and to help with arrangements at the hospital.

Hinds briefs Minority parties

Georgetown - Acting President, Sam Hinds, on Monday briefed representatives of the Minority parties in Parliament on the condition of Head of State, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

In a statement, the Guyana information Services (GIS) said Hinds asked opposition officials for their "understanding of the critical situation facing the country at this time."

He also described the situation as one of national concern.

GIS said the representatives thanked Hinds for inviting them, and assured him they all shared his concern at the unexpected developments.

They expressed "sincere wishes" for Dr. Jagan's speedy recovery on behalf of their parties and individually, GIS said.

On the Government side with Hinds were Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon; leader of the House and Minister of Agriculture, Reepu Daman Persaud; Minister of Health, Gail Teixeira; and Minister of Information, Moses Nagamootoo.

Attending for the parties were Minority People's National Congress members, Clarisssa Riehl; Idris Deen; Dharamdeo Sawh, and Ivan Peters. For the Working People's Alliance, co-leader and assembly man, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine. For The United Force, leader and Parliamentarian, Manzoor Nadir, and member Malcolm De Freitas and Charles Sugrim.

"The meeting was very cordial," GIS said.

Nadir later said the representatives thanked Hinds for the gesture and encouraged their supporters to join together in dealing with what is a national emergency.

GIS said two non-Parliamentary parties, the Good and Green Guyana and the Guyana Democratic Party have also sent messages for Dr. Jagan's speedy recovery.

Anglican Bishop, Randolph George, also said individual members of the Guyana Council of Churches have been offering prayers for Dr. Jagan, and have been encouraging their congregations to do the same.

Last night nationals were invited to join in special prayers for Dr. Jagan. Inter-faith services took place at the Kendra, Ganges Street, Prashad Nagar, Georgetown, and at Better Hope Community Centre, East Coast, Demerara.

PSC expresses concern, wishes for recovery

Georgetown - The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Monday expressed sincere concern over Dr. Cheddi Jagan's medical situation.

In a statement, PSC Chairman, Manniram Prashad, offered wishes for a fast recovery on behalf of himself and members of the group.

The organisations include the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Guyana Rice Millers and Exporters Development Association; the Tourism Association of Guyana; the Guyana Aircraft Owners' Association; the Guyana Manufacturers Association; the Forest Products Association of Guyana; the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry; the Institute of Private Enterprise Development, and the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development.

"We express sincere concern at your recent illness and we wish you a speedy recovery and continued good health to lead and guide our country to faster economic recovery," Prashad said.

Messages of support, best wishes coming from overseas

Georgetown - Overseas leaders and others have sent messages expressing best wishes for a full and speedy recovery for Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

Foreign Minister, Clement Rohee, on Monday said he briefed current Caricom Chairman and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Lester Bird, on Dr. Jagan's medical status.

Bird said they were all concerned about Dr. Jagan's illness, and were looking forward to his speedy recovery, Rohee said.

There have been similar messages from Jamaican Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, and from Dominica's Prime Minister, Edison James.

Messages have also come from the President of Suriname, Jules Weijdenbosch, and from political parties there.

Resident overseas missions have also sent messages as well as offers to help, Rohee said.

Caricom's Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, was also updated on Dr. Jagan's condition.

This Special Internet Publication on the President's Medical Situation was courtesy of:

Indo Caribbean World

312 Brownridge Drive, Thornhill,

Ontario. Canada. L4J 5X1

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Publisher: Harry Ramkhelawan

Editor: Romeo Kaseram