Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell was, Sunday evening, in stable condition at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where doctors were treating him for an infection.
The 90-year-old leader was transported from Bequia — where he lives in the northern Grenadines — to Kingstown, by the Coast Guard medevac vessel sometime around 9 p.m. Saturday.
He was being treated at the Port Elizabeth Hospital in Bequia in connection with a gallstone, but doctors decided to transfer him to the nation’s main hospital after his condition deteriorated.
“I have never hid my condition from the people of St. Vincent and as you know, I have always been reporting how I am feeling well and swimming and all of that,” Sir James told iWitness News via telephone Sunday night.
He, however, said that he took a fall in his kitchen about four months ago and while he suffered no broken bones, he had been experiencing some health challenges since then.
Sir James told iWitness News that he had been receiving medical attention from a private facility in St. Vincent as well as being attended to by a Cuban physician who “has given brilliant service and attention” at the Port Elizabeth Hospital.
“But then I began to have difficulty urinating and he then realised that there was something else wrong. And over the last weekend, I began to get some abdominal pain,” Sir James said, adding that he thought he was experiencing food poisoning.
In the same interview, Sir James’ second child, Louise Mitchell, told iWitness News that on Saturday morning he complained that he had not slept the night before and was in pain.
When her sister went to visit their father, he started to vomit, Mitchell told iWitness News, adding that Sir James was taken to the Port Elizabeth Hospital, where an ultrasound found that he had a gall bladder stone.
Doctors, however, concluded that it was not an urgent matter for which surgery was required.
Mitchell said that she left the hospital at 4:15 p.m. at which time Sir James was doing “pretty OK” and she left the island at 4:30 p.m.
“Everybody was thinking that that (the gall bladder stone) was the reason for the pain. It turns out it was not,” she said.
Mitchell said that around 6 p.m. her sister called saying that the Port Elizabeth Hospital had called saying that there was an emergency and they had sent for the Coast Guard medevac vessel to transport Sir James to Kingstown.
“Soon after I left, he had began vomiting again. Like very strong vomiting so they were concerned that he needed emergency surgery with the gallstone,” she said.
She said that because MCMH was anticipating a gallbladder issue, they had a doctor ready to perform a surgery, if it was needed.
“Upon doing an examination, they found that the gall bladder stone was not anything critical and that, essentially, it was a gastroenteritis problem — that he had some kind of infection. So they determined that he did not need surgery,” she told iWitness News.
The former leader is, however, still having difficulties urinating and has an enlarged prostate.
“And that is actually the issue that is causing the concern at the moment,” Mitchell said, adding that an urologist had attended to Sir James on Sunday and inserted a catheter.
“And he (the doctor) says that he (Sir James) has an infection. He does not know how he got the infection and he will have to stay in hospital while they make sure that he gets rid of that infection,” Mitchell said.
“I got some very good attention from at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital,” Sir James told iWitness News, adding that seven doctors had attended to him.
“I keep commenting on my extraordinary health at the age of 90, but it is amazing to see how one fall can push you in a totally different direction,” Sir James said.
He said there has also been an outpouring of love and support from people of SVG and he is very grateful for their messages and prayers.
His daughter, however, said that doctors have not determined that the infection is related to the fall.
“It just seems that things are happening all together but I don’t think that they are all related to the fall,” Mitchell said, adding that Sir James is having some issues one after the next but they are not necessarily tied together.
She said that Sir James had had tremendous support since falling ill on Saturday.
“[Leader of the Opposition] Dr. [Godwin] Friday came to see him in the Bequia hospital before he left and [Prime Minister] Dr. [Ralph] Gonsalves has been on top of the entire situation and he has been very helpful and just keeping an eye out, making sure that everything was in place,” Mitchell said.
She said that her father has been receiving “excellent treatment” at the hospital. Sir James added, “Both from doctors and nurses.” Among the physicians, he mentioned Dr. Deshong, Dr. Mandel, Dr. Hughes Dougan, Dr. Aussie and Dr. Lugo.
Sir James, an agronomist and hotelier, was prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 1984 to October 2000, five months before his New Democratic Party was voted out of office. He quit electoral politics before the March 2001 general elections.
He is the only parliamentarian at the attainment of independence on Oct. 27, 1979 who is still alive.