Health Ministry: Cancelled flight delayed Triston Ramlochan’s treatment

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, Triston Ramlochan is seen warded at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex. –

THE Ministry of Health said the Children’s Life Fund Authority did everything it could to facilitate the overseas treatment of a teenager but the cancellation of a flight to India led to an unforeseen delay.

In a media release on Friday, the ministry said it received a report from the authority concerning 14-year-old Triston Ramlochan, who died from cancer on April 14.

The report detailed efforts made by the authority to provide relief to the family in the shortest timeframe possible.

“Upon the receipt of all the required final documents from the family of the patient and the clinical teams, and the subsequent completion of the requisite internal process, approval was granted by the board of the (authority) to provide funding to support the required travel, as well as some of the medical treatment to be done at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in India.

“Unfortunately, (the authority) was advised, by the travel agency, of the cancellation of the first flight that was scheduled to take Ramlochan to India for treatment.

“This cancellation was out of the control of the authority.”

The ministry, in offering condolences to the family, said the clinical deterioration of Ramlochan, based on the information from his doctor, prevented the family from making the journey later.

“Ramlochan simply became too ill to travel. As with all cases, the Children’s Life Fund Authority takes its role in providing financial support for children with life-threatening medical conditions very seriously and treats all cases with urgency,” the ministry said.

It added that the authority continued to fulfil its duty to manage and administer the Children’s Life Fund and provide critical support to some of the most vulnerable in society.

Ramlochan was battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and needed treatment abroad to survive and life-saving medications which were very costly. The family applied to the Children’s Life Fund in December 2021, and received approval on March 21, according to his mother Natalie Joseph.

Speaking with Newsday on Saturday she said her family complied with all the requests by the ministry and the authority for approval.

She said the entire process left them questioning whether they treated her son’s case as a matter of urgency it deserved.

“We made sure we had everything they asked for so that we did not have a situation where there was a situation that held back my son from getting his treatment.

“They did not treat Triston’s case as urgent as they needed to. We had everything organised, we had the funds to travel and were just waiting for them to book the flight but that did not happen, and he became ill. They did not make any attempt to get the flight booked, they claimed they did not see any flights available at that time. It was a struggle with them from the beginning.”

Joseph said the ministry’s statement raised questions that they will have to further investigate.

Ramlochan’s funeral was on Thursday.

Joseph said she was grateful for the support and the donations given to them through a GoFundMe account. The money received, she said, was used for some of her son’s treatment and funeral.

Ramlochan’s case was highlighted by Newsday in January where doctors said even after treatment that ended in 2020, Ramlochan’s leukaemia was still present and he needed immunotherapy followed by a stem-cell transplant or cellular therapy to survive. None of those are available in TT.