Sharon Adams, a delegate to last month's 'I Am Able' Conference continues her series of articles on the state of persons living with disabilities in Antigua and Barbuda. Here, she tells the story of George Jacobs, now confined to a wheelchair, having been afflicted by a rare disorder, Guillain Barre Syndrome.


Guillain Barre Syndrome is listed by medical professionals as a serious and rare autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system thus leading to weakness, numbness, tingling sensation in the legs, muscle spasm and eventually causes paralysis.

Though the cause of the syndrome is unknown, it is generally triggered by an infectious illness such as stomach flu or lung infection. There is no known cure for the Syndrome but there are treatments being used which reduce the severity of the symptoms and shorten the extent of the illness.

To us living in this small space on this side of the globe, a condition like this may seem foreign or far from our shores. However, it pains my heart to be the bearer of sad tidings. Guillain Barre Syndrome has arrived at our doorsteps and is presently affecting a son of the soil.

George Jacobs, a young man in his forties, was diagnosed with this syndrome almost two years ago. He was briefly hospitalized in the United States of America after contracting pneumonia while he was on vacation.

As a result, he has lost mobility in his lower body. Once a vibrant healthy young man earning his living as a vendor, he is now confined to a wheelchair.

Imagine been reduced from an independent individual to becoming a dependent who relies solely on relatives and siblings for financial support. His circumstance has been severely altered not only physically but psychologically.

Jacobs has ascending paralysis which simply means that his paralysis starts from his toes upwards. Since physical therapy is the key to counteracting this disorder, he needs regular therapy if he is to overcome this disorder. Though depressed many times due to his incapacitation, he remains optimistic that one day soon he will be able to walk and work again.

According to Jacobs, his muscles have gotten much stronger due to therapy and he is now able to lift himself out of the chair. Although it can be considered baby steps, it is a tremendous improvement over his former state.

Regular therapy is critical to Jacobs’s recovery, without which his condition will get progressively worst and could prove fatal. Each therapy costs $110.00 per session and he is in dire need of funds to continue his treatments.

After becoming a person living disability [PLWD] Jacobs now has first knowledge of the difficulties and challenges faced by them within the society.

“More education is needed for persons living with disabilities, they ought to be given the opportunity to apply whatever trade or skills they possess, they should be treated as human beings and given equal opportunities which will empower them to help themselves, “says Jacobs.

He next commented on the things in his life which he would like to change if given the chance to do so.

There are many things in my life I would wish to change if I am able to walk again, there are some friends I would like to change, some eating habits as well. I would eat more healthy foods and pay more attention to my overall health.”

In our twin island state, we always echo with pride that we are a Christian society. A Christian’s attitude must, therefore, reflect Christ-likeness and he or she must be filled with compassion and empathy for others.

The Holy Scriptures states, “For whoso hath this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell within him?”

Please, lend a helping hand today; donate to a worthwhile cause. It was Christ who said, “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

And in the words of the ancient Roman philosopher Annaeus Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”

Public Relations Department
Ministry of Health and the Environment
High& Long Streets
(268) 462 5522

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