Of Toes and Politics: Limb Salvage in Trinidad’s Parliamentary Officials

Doctors amputate Ramnath’s toe

By Richardson Dhalai Friday, December 4 2009

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Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath....
Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath….

In order to save his right leg, surgeons had to amputate a toe from the right foot of UNC Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath last week.

Ramnath, who suffers from diabetes, sustained an injury to his foot three months ago and was receiving treatment, which included minor surgery and antibiotics, to aid in the recovery.

However, he said although the treatment seemed to be working, doctors later discovered that the bone had become infected and, to save his leg, doctors recommended amputation. “It was not very nice.

Lots of pain so I had the surgery done on November 23,” Ramnath told Newsday yesterday.

“I am still unable to wear shoes and slippers are not allowed in the Parliament Chamber but I should be able to attend Parliament next week,” he said.

Ramnath said House Speaker Barry Sinanan has been informed about his condition and “graciously granted” him an extension on his leave of absence from the Parliament.

His parliamentary colleagues have also been told about his illness and Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday and Princes Town North MP Subhas Panday have visited him at his home. Ramnath is presently undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is used to treat diabetic illnesses such as diabetic foot, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic nephropathy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. Ramnath has so far received 33 treatments. Ramnath is not the only MP to have fallen ill due to diabetes. In 2007, former PNM Laventille West MP, Eulalie James, who is also diabetic, opted out of contesting the general elections, after her right leg was amputated following major surgery in Cuba.

Ramnath missed the 2010 Budget debate in September due to illness and was granted a leave of absence from the House of Representatives from October 9 to 30, as he underwent angioplasty surgery after doctors discovered blockages in the arteries of his heart. In spite of his health setbacks, Ramnath remains as feisty as ever and is once again backing Panday to retain the leadership of the UNC in the party’s elections on January 24, 2010. “The UNC is the most democratic party in the West Indies where anyone can contest any position that they want,” Ramnath said.

“But I am a Panday supporter because I believe that he has the moral authority to lead this party at this time notwithstanding the objection from the so-called dissident members. I believe that Mr Panday is the only one who can lead the party,” he said.

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