“I don’t want my arm cut off, I don’t want my hand off,” was the plea that Linda Defreitas said her great niece Zakiyah had repeatedly been making after she underwent emergency surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) last night.
The teenager’s left forearm was severed in the accident in which a ZR overturned at Nursery Drive in The City, with 21 passengers, including several schoolmates, onboard.
The 14-year-old student of Springer Memorial was later rushed to hospital where doctors moved to re-attach the severed limb. However, up to tonight that effort proved to be in vain and Zakiyah’s family was forced to make the very difficult decision for the teenager to live the rest of life without her left forearm.
It’s a decision that had been weighing heavily on the minds of her mother Sharon Walcott, her father Frankie Defreitas, her grandparents, great aunt and other family members, all of whom were gathered at Ward C8 of the QEH for most of the day.
At one point, the entire ordeal proved too much for Zakiyah’s mother to bear and she too was briefly hospitalized and treated with sedatives after collapsing while at the QEH.
“. . . she is not taking it well,” said Linda, who initially was the only family member strong enough to speak to the Barbados TODAY team, which arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m.
At that time, both Zakiyah’s mom and dad were being counselled by a psychiatrist on Ward C4 and great aunt Linda reported that the mother was finding it extremely hard to come to terms with the fact that her “first child is in here [C8] in a bad state”.
It was around 2:45 p.m. that the QEH chaplain, Canon Noel Burke, arrived to pray with the family, after being summoned by the hospital’s management.
Almost an hour later the Anglican cleric emerged from behind the closed doors of Ward C8 telling Barbados TODAY “it was good to be here to give the family some strength through prayer”.
Besides her parents and great aunt, Zakiyah’s grandfather Keith Holford; her grandmother Veronica DeFreitas; her cousin Tyrone DeFreitas; and her godfather Thomas Alexander kept vigil outside the ward where tears flowed freely and several hugs were shared, amid words of encouragement whispered among the intimate gathering.
It was around 6 p.m. when Zakiyah’s dad, who was noticeably distraught, mustered the courage to speak to Barbados TODAY about her situation.
He said he had been hoping and praying that his little girl would get her wish for her left arm to be kept intact.
“I am going to sit around until 7 p.m.,” he said, adding “God is good”.
He also pointed out that Zakiyah’s mother Sharon was not holding up well, but he was confident she would make it through.
“She has been given some sedatives because she became hysterical when it was suggested by doctors that Zakiyah’s left hand may have to be amputated, but she is fine now,” Frankie said, adding that, “the surgeon has to return to tell us what is going to happen to my daughter’s hand”.
Standing outside the ward after numerous trips inside to get updates on his daughter, Frankie told Barbados TODAY that “through it all [Zakiyah] has been very strong. She is not crying at all”.
He also recalled how he got the news that his daughter was involved in an accident.
“I was first informed about the accident by a police officer after Zakiyah gave him my cellular number even though she was in severe pain.
“On reaching the River Van Stand, I went straight to the ambulance and saw her on the stretcher. I could not believe what I was seeing. Her face was all bloodied. She said, ‘daddy do not give up, because I am not giving up and I am not going to leave you. You see I am not crying? You taught me how not to cry, but to be tough and I am not crying, just do not leave me’,” he recalled her saying.
The 14-year-old is also said to be nursing several other injuries about her head, which remains bandaged. Her eyes are also very swollen while her face and the rest of her body is reportedly bruised.
In direct reference to the accident, great aunt Linda said she was “really stressed out to see that, at 14, Zakiyah might possibly lose her arm through the negligence of some person who . . . should be taking care of children, instead of running around and doing what they are doing”.
In the midst of her heartache she also made a special appeal to the owners of ZR vehicles to monitor who they hired to drive public service vehicles.
“ . . . because they are driving human beings and not animals and even if the children want that excitement they should be more mature not to do what ever they are doing,” she said, while complimenting Minister of Transport Michael Lashley for “getting more inspectors to keep these people