Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2016 Contents To reach
...goal of younger
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Academy Awards viewer-
ship dipped to its lowest
level since 2008 in a year
where the movie industry s
ability to reflect the nation s
diversity was a central issue.
The Nielsen company said
Monday preliminary esti-
mates showed 34.3 million
people watched Sunday
night s telecast, where
Spotlight won best picture.
Last year s show was seen by
37.3 million people.
Since 1990, only two
Academy Awards telecasts
had fewer viewers: in 2008,
when No Country For Old
Men won best picture, and
in 2004, when Chicago was
honoured. The peak came
when Titanic won a boat-
load of awards in 1998 and
55 million people tuned in.
The paucity of minority
nominees this year led to
calls for a boycott among
some black stars, including
Jada Pinkett Smith and
Spike Lee. But Nielsen did
not immediately have any
ethnic breakdown of Oscar
Generally, the popularity
of movies being honoured
tends to be the biggest factor
in whether the audience for
the live telecast is up or
Oscars get 34.3 million viewers, lowest rating since 2008
Travis Meade, right, can now
plan life with his girlfriend
Merkesha Alleyene. PHOTO
COURTESY TRAVIS MEADE
When Travis Meade walked
into his surprise birthday
party two weeks ago, his
family, girlfriend and colleagues
would have breathed a silent prayer
of thanks that he was able to live
to see 24.
Because that might have been
uncertain at another time in his life.
Meade, who carried a ticking
"time bomb" of sorts in his chest
since childhood due to leaking heart
valves, is among "graduates" of the
Ministry of Health s Open Heart
Surgery (OHS) programme---such as
Damian Pacheco and Damian Jack-
son---whose lives have been improved
Pacheco, at 38, was forced to cur-
tail normal activities due to valve
issues for which he d already had
surgery in the US. Jackson, also in
his 30s, suffered problems---causing
his heart to "stretch."
Any visit to the busy Port-of-
Spain General Hospital (POSGH) will
help you discover such stories---lit-
erally wandering the corridor---since
the OHS success rate, is a low pro-
file, but proud record for health,
boosting T&T s stocks in this area
of health sector development.
Open-heart surgery had in pre-
vious years been routinely associated
with older patients and coronary
disease, stemming from T&T s
biggest non-communicable prob-
lem---diabetes. But now, an increas-
ing number of young patients at a
financially-productive time of their
lives, seem to be requiring such sur-
gery. Meade and others are among
younger patients who ve undergone
particularly unusual, complicated
surgeries for life-threatening situa-
The tall, Palo Seco electrician and
air-condition technician had been
living the normal life of a 20-some-
swimming, sports---until a couple
Focusing on studies, he suddenly
developed a persistent cough and
lost almost half his weight in 2013.
Meade recalled: "I went to the
health centre and they said I had to
go to hospital immediately as they
couldn t handle what was wrong
with me. When I went to San Fer-
nando General, they informed me
about my heart condition and leaking
"I stayed in hospital for a month
but they made clear I d have to do
surgery in order to live. I also
researched the situation and I found
I had no choice."
Doctors told him the leaking valves
caused severe aortic problems and
Meade s heart function supplying
blood to his brain and the rest of his
body was reduced at less than 40
per cent. He was referred to the
He says: "I was kinda nervous
knowing the risk of surgery but I
felt I d reached so far with my efforts
and even though it could be my last,
I felt I had to go through with it.
Me, my family, we all go to church
and I told myself that anything is
possible; you just have to believe it
and everything will be alright,"
Comforted by that outlook, Meade
went into the care of OHS doctors
who undertook intricate surgery in
which his dilated aorta and leaking
valve were replaced last November
Amid tubes, wires, machines,
medication and bustling health per-
sonnel, Meade carries one memory
from the operation that will stay
with him forever. He said: "It was
weird...during the operation, even
though I was unconscious I seemed
aware my body was asleep.
"Then I had a sensation of climb-
ing over something and I became
aware of...a man it seemed, though
I could only sense his foot, then a
clear sense of hearing someone say
they were not ready for me yet .
Then at the same time I got a
smell...a nice one. The only way I
can describe it, is like, a rare scent.
"Then I had a sense of coming
back. At that moment I started
awakening from surgery and cough-
Meade recalls no pain, only dizzi-
ness. Crossing hurdles one by one,
the recovery road in post-operative
care also saw an act of love from his
devoted mother, father and doting
girlfriend Merkesha Alleyne who
travelled daily from Palo Seco to sit
beside him, pray and talk Meade
through his recuperation for weeks,
until back on his feet.
As one of the youngest patients
undergoing complex surgery, Meade
says: "I d have visitors every hour---
Meade toted home a
pillow which all the
medical personnel signed.
Now progressed beyond initial
restrictions, Meade is back to sleep-
ing in his favourite position---his side.
Scars are fading. His face has filled
out. No more shortness of breath,.
He s working lightly, exercising a
bit, doing his check-ups religiously.
And planning life with his girl, again.
Doctors say he s made a full recov-
ery.At his birthday party, Meade said
his parents and brother finally filled
him in on the details of what he d
gone through at hospital.
"It was only after the operation
I realised something.
"When I was working, we d wired
a San Fernando building and after
I d always wondered what that par-
ticular building was to be used for.
It turned out it had been used by
the same doctors who did my oper-
ation. We never knew each other,
but our roads later crossed---and
their work saved me."
Continues on Page A28
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