Saturday, January 19, 2008

Andy Palacio Seriously Ill

Posted: 18/01/2008 - 10:08 AM
Author: Adele Ramos

Belizean music icon Andy Palacio is being flown to the University of Chicago Medical Center this evening via air ambulance for urgent medical attention, after medics and the Universal Health Services determined that he has to be transferred for further diagnostic tests not available in Belize.

Sources to our newspaper say that Andy—who was catapulted to international fame last year for his Watina album—began feeling ill last Saturday. He reportedly experienced what appeared to be a stroke on Tuesday, when he was hospitalized at the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan.

By Wednesday morning he had to be transferred to the Belize Diagnostic Center in Belize City for a series of tests, after which he was hospitalized at the center’s parent hospital, the Universal Health Services.

Dr. Joel Cervantes, one of the doctors who have been attending to Andy since Wednesday, told us that while they have their suspicion what went wrong, they have yet to make a definitive diagnosis.

On Saturday, said Cervantes, Andy was feeling dizzy and he experienced problems with imbalance. He was transferred to Belize City, where a battery of tests, including CT scans, MRI’s, blood tests and other diagnostics were performed on him. More comprehensive diagnostic tests will have to be done abroad, Cervantes indicated. Andy will be treated at a neuro-intensive care unit in the United States.

We asked Cervantes whether the intensity of Andy’s recent international tour could have contributed to his medical condition. He told us that if the tour caused Andy to be stressed, it could have, since stress weakens one’s defense.

It will take roughly four hours for Andy to arrive in Chicago.

We asked Dr. Cervantes what Andy’s prognosis looks like, and he told us that it all depends on whether he continues treatment and does the necessary follow-up for his condition.

But Andy’s a fighter, said Cervantes, citing Andy’s recent accomplishments on the world stage.

Andy Palacio will be accompanied by his first cousin, Michael Polonio, who is also the president of the National Garifuna Council. Polonio told us that Andy showed major improvement over the course of Wednesday, but he has since been in and out of consciousness.

Andy’s boss, NICH president, Yasser Musa, has been alongside Andy since Wednesday morning. He told us that both NICH and the Government are facilitating the arrangements for Andy and covering the costs of his medical expenses. Musa said that they would do whatever it takes to save Andy.

We understand that Andy’s condition deteriorated this morning, leading to the decision made at 11 this morning to fly him out to Chicago.

Dr. Cervantes confirmed that Andy’s hearing has partially been affected by his condition, but other reports to our news desk indicate that the extent of the problem could be more substantial, and extends, at least temporarily, to his speech. There is hope for Andy’s full and speedy recovery, but the doctor’s projection is that Andy will be in treatment and recovery for some time.

Andy Palacio is Belize’s cultural ambassador, and he recently won the WOMEX award alongside his producer, Ivan Duran, for his latest release of songs with The Garifuna Collective. Andy recently got off his world tour, promoting his album.

“We are all still in shock with what has happened to our friend and fellow artist that we have not wanted to send a press release until all tests are completed and we know more about Andy’s condition,” Duran said. “Right now, the focus is on making sure that Andy gets the best medical attention possible and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Belize, and especially Prime Minister Said Musa and NICH president Yasser Musa, for their unconditional support and ensuring that Andy receives the care he needs.”