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Rehabilitation Centre Steps Up After Plea To Assist Disabled Man

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

AFTER reading about a distraught mother’s pleas for financial assistance, a local rehabilitation centre has offered 20 free physiotherapy sessions to her paralysed son.

Last week, The Tribune reported that Jacqueline Ford, the mother of 22-year-old Renaldo Gibson, requested the public’s assistance after struggling to come up with funds to pay off her son’s physical rehabilitation fees.

Mr Gibson was paralysed from the waist down after a car accident five years ago.

Mrs Ford said her son’s medical bills were over $100,000, leaving her with no other alternatives but to plead for help.

However Dr Christina Messarra, director of Providence Rehabilitation Centre, told The Tribune the facility would offer Mr Gibson 20 free physiotherapy sessions – valued at $1500 – with Melissa Rayburn as his designated physiotherapist.

When contacted by The Tribune for comment on PRC’s generous donation, Mrs Ford could hardly contain her joy.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “I feel great about it because Renaldo is in dire need of rehabilitation therapy, so I’m thankful to Providence Rehabilitation Centre for offering free sessions for Renaldo. It will really help him further in his progress.

“We are humbled by their generosity by offering their help,” she added.

In 2009, Mr Gibson, then 16 years old, was the victim of a horrific car crash on Prince Charles Drive as his mother drove him to school. Initially attempting to enter the gate of the Doris Johnson High School, Mrs Ford’s car was struck after she misjudged the rate of approach of another vehicle headed east on Prince Charles Drive.

The force of the collision propelled him out of his mother’s vehicle and onto the pavement, paralysing him from the waist down.

After local doctors informed her that her son would forever require the assistance of a ventilator, Mrs Ford said she decided to fly him into the Orlando Regional Medical Centre in 2012. There he stayed for three months, and shortly after his 20th birthday, Mr Gibson breathed without the assistance of a ventilator for the first time.

However, as therapy costs were too expensive for her to afford, Mrs Ford personally took care of her son from September 2012 to this year. Unfortunately, additional complications from his injuries surfaced and Mr Gibson found himself back in hospital on September 17.

However, according to Mrs Ford, her son was officially discharged from the Princess Margaret hospital on Friday. That, she said, coupled with PRC’s generous offering, has given both her and her son new hope.

“Renaldo is determined,” she said. “He’s excited and is as ready as can be. So he is looking forward and he is determined because he really wants to get up and walk again, so the sessions would help him further on in his development.”

Mr Gibson said he is grateful for the donation.

“I feel thankful that they offered to render their assistance in trying to get me up,” Mr Gibson said. “I’m just thankful to God that someone is reaching out to such an extent. I just pray that after those free lessons are up that someone could donate so that I could keep up with the sessions.”

“I’m holding the faith, praying every day that I will walk again,” he added.

Dr Messarra said the centre looks forward to helping Mr Gibson.

“With so many young men and women in the Bahamas suffering from life altering injuries just like Renaldo’s, PRC hopes to ensure that more Bahamians learn about our physiotherapy services,” she said.

Persons wishing to lend support or offer additional donations can contact Mrs Ford at 468-2195. She is also planning another fundraiser to assist with the payment of her son’s medical expenses.

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