Epilepsy association crowdfunds to buy medicine

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Living with epilepsy — the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures — can be a challenge, but it is manageable.

That’s Gail Valentine’s take on the illness with which she has been living with since age three. The key, she says, is to taking the medication as prescribed.

But for many people, affording the medication is where the challenge begins.

Joy McHugh, executive director of the Jamaican Epilepsy Association, explained that the cost for two to three, or even four to six different combinations of medications can be from $12,000 to $45,000 monthly, per person. Consequently, many people living with the disorder have difficulty purchasing their medication.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells send their signals abnormally, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behaviour, and sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.

“In Jamaica, it is hard for persons with epilepsy to gain employment because once it is known that you have epilepsy, some employers lose confidence in the individual.

“Epilepsy does not only impact the person with the condition [physically], it also affects how they make a living. Coping with epilepsy is different for everyone; and many persons cannot find employment, therefore, they are unable to purchase their medication,” she said.

As a result, the association has entered into a partnership with The Jamaica National Group, to raise funds via its ISupportJamaica.com crowdfunding site to assist with purchasing medication for its members. It hopes to raise US$2,000.

Those interested can donate by visiting www.isupportjamaica.com, clicking on “Jamaican Epilepsy Association Member Care Project”, then “Fund Project”.

Phillip Lindsay, operations officer, ISupportJamaica, said crowd funding is a positive method to gain exposure for projects or business ventures which need to raise financial support, and gave the assurance that contributing to any initiative via the platform is simple and secure.

Donations can also be made via JN Live e-banking, and at any JN branch or MoneyShop, as well as through interbank transfers.

The Jamaican Epilepsy Association was founded by Nora Perez in 2002 with a mission to improve the lives of people with epilepsy in Jamaica, and to make a positive difference through awareness about epilepsy and first-aid training. It is a registered non-profit organisation funded by donations and fund-raising events.

McHugh says it is the only one of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.

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