A 14-year-old St Jago High School student died at the Spanish Town Hospital on Wednesday from what his father said were complications triggered by the chikungunya virus.
The death of Azee Baker plunged the school community into gloom yesterday and raised more concern about the wait period at the hospital, as the Jamaica Observer was told that pleas for help by the boy’s father, Abraham Baker, were ignored for some time until the boy collapsed.
“His father was calling out for help but nobody came to help,” a hospital employee told the Observer last night. “Is after the boy collapsed that they came to help him. By then it was too late.”
Abraham Baker said his son started exhibiting signs of illness on Wednesday, September 24, but managed to go to school up to Friday, September 26.
On Monday, September 29, he took Azee, his only child, to the hospital where he was seen and released with a prescription for Panadol. However, on Wednesday, October 1, the father had to take his son back to the hospital.
“Him say to mi, ‘Daddy, mi cyaan breathe’, and mi bring him back to the hospital,” Baker said. “The last thing he said to me was ‘Daddy, mi waah vomit’, and him vomit and then he said ‘Daddy, mi a run outa breath’.”
“Mi deh right behind the screen a hol’ him foot and dem pump breath inna him and him nuh come back,” the grieving father said, breaking down into tears.
Baker told the Observer that, in addition to the diagnosis of the chikungunya virus, they also found out that young Azee had a heart problem only a day before his passing and that could have been a contributing factor.
Yesterday, St Jago Principal Sandra Swyer-Watson told the Observer that the school was in mourning and that the Ministry of Education sent a counsellor, Sonia Benjamin, to assist students.
Azee’s grade nine form teacher, Charmaine Hunter, said she only learnt of the boy’s death when she went to class yesterday morning and saw all the students crying.
“The students were devastated; it was as if the whole world crumbled. It was heart-rending,” Hunter said.
She described him as a “model student” who was always positive and who constantly encouraged and motivated his peers. She also said he was “a student any teacher would want to teach, and a son any mother would want to have”.
“Azee was always eating. He loved chicken and chips, and he was always licking his fingers. And whenever I told him not to lick his fingers he would tell me the gravy is the sweetest part of the chicken,” Hunter said.
Azee’s death came hours after that of Jason Forbes at the same hospital.
Forbes, who was taken to the facility Tuesday evening after complaining of stomach pains, died on the floor there after awaiting medical attention for more than 13 hours.
Forbes’ sister had complained that her brother’s pleas for help were ignored by hospital staff.