Recent visits

Will is working well with physio, neuro-physio and occupational therapists and was sat up in a chair on Friday morning to do strength tests and exercises to see how well the brain/body connection was responding.

He is being carefully evaluated and assessed for his current and long term needs and there is a plan slowly beginning to emerge.

Friends Simon, Jason and Chloe from Hereford and Elaine, who flew over from Spain, all came to visit on Friday and Chris and Maya came in on Saturday.

Delighted to see Brigitte Jaquillard and Helena Dennison today plus Richard & Yvonne Paddon back again for another visit today, on their way back down to Devon.

He will probably have his gastrostomy early this week and then see about the tracheo hole later on.

He has a great set of photos on the wall, plus a steam train calendar, to show the doctors and nurses the Will we all know.

Please make time to visit, as he really enjoys having people hold his hand and talk to him as well as remind him of how he is in a safe place with friends nearby.

Visiting Will

Will is now settled into his new routine and is warm, comfortable and enjoying a good snore. It was quite a nice surprise when I heard him use his voice for the first time, breathing out, now that his tracheo hole has been completely covered.

It is pretty certain that he will have a gastrostomy to aid feeding and take that awful tube out of his nose, even though the one he has had since his arrival has been smaller in diameter.  He will be going for a quick op to have this done under a local anesthetic.

So, if you would like to start visiting him, you can do so starting tomorrow (Thurs).

How to find his room: He is at East Surrey Hospital, Canada Avenue, Redhill RH1 5RH. Park in the visitors car park and enter through the East Entrance.  Walk through the main doors and continue until you reach the corridor and turn right.  Follow the corridor until you see Acute Medical Ward on the left.  Walk straight through the outpatients area and follow the signs to Bay 4. He is in Room 5, which is the first on the right.  Please make sure you use the hand sanitisers before going into the room.

How to be with him: The best way to be with him is to take hold of his left hand and call his name in your normal voice.  He will normally be sleeping so give him time to come round.  He will usually look straight at you but sometimes just stares straight ahead.  You can hold onto his hands but will only feel movement in his left hand.

Be aware that the nursing staff will need to come in to aspirate and clean his mouth so as it is a very small private room you may have to vacate when they do this.

Diary/visitors book:
There is a diary/visitors book in the room, so please state when you visited and leave your personal message to him.

Frances and Denise return to Lima:
Denise was in for the last time yesterday and gave him a final leg massage and some physio.  I dropped them both off this morning at Gatwick and they departed despite the fog and frosty weather.   Denise was in every day and is probably looking at some well deserved time off when she gets home.

Bon voyage and thank you to both of you for bringing him safely home.

Sunday visit

Graciously taking time out from their Sunday off, ambulance team Richard & Karen Hartley and logistics manager Sara Reeve spent time with us after my arrival from San Francisco so we could talk about the ongoing arrangements being negotiated. Richard & Karen will be taking Will to any outpatient service he needs in their ambulance and I know he will be in good hands.

And I can’t quite believe this, but Sara has offered to let any of Will’s friends who have a long way to travel, to stay overnight at her home nearby!  How amazing is that!! If you need to do this, get in touch with me and I will connect you to her.

I gave them all small gifts of appreciation on your behalf.

Sara Reeve, Denise, Karen and Richard Hartley come and say hello to Will on their day off.

Maya Marchington also came in to update me on the important steps that are needed to ensure Will is represented legally and again my thanks go to her for getting him here. It took a great deal of hair pulling, nail biting and investigation with serious legal connections to pull this off and we are very lucky she is such a powerful negotiator. Hear her latest broadcast on BBC Hereford with Toni McDonald and Elliott Webb here.

There are still many decisions to make and I will be with the consultants today to find out what the scans indicate.  Please wait until we get the clearance for friends to visit as this room is just temporary until he is moved into the appropriate ward.

A “Thank You” Post

It’s time to say Thank You.  A really big one and to many people.  It totally chokes me up to look back and review how many people have been involved on so many levels and with incredible levels of commitment and sacrifice.

On any adventure, you meet people who leave precious memories for you to savour and sift through again and again and on this particular journey there are so many.

I would like to take this opportunity to stop and thank all the people who helped get Will home, in order of appearance.

  • Judy Lusby, Will’s sister, for allowing me to take over the responsibility for this campaign.
  • Dr. Hugo Bauer and Kerwin Otero at the Hospital Contingencia in Tarapoto.
  • Paul Guerin who called down to Peru and spoke spanish on my behalf.
  • Lili Tapullima Oyola, one of Will’s new colleagues, who flew with him to the hospital in Lima on a very anxious plane ride.
  • My English acquaintance Virginia Travers for introducing me to her relatives Rosa Johnson and Juan Perez in Lima, who picked me up from the airport and took me directly to the hospital and pushed for him to be accepted for treatment by the Peruvian national health (SIS).
  • Dr. Alberto Torres and Dr. Diaz and the nursing team at the Dos de Mayo Hospital for performing his initial assessments and taking him for his brain scans.
  • Rosa Ten who introduced me to Dr. Oscar Vigil who gave me a bed for the night and briefed me on the Peruvian medical system.
  • Claudia de Olazabal at the British Embassy for walking me through the protocol and keeping his passport safe.
  • Denise Crisanto Clark for showing up out of the blue and volunteering to help me with translation and the Peruvian hospital system.
  • Miriam Guzman for her help in translation and visits in the UCI.
  • Dr. Jesus Araujo in the Dos de Mayo UCI and Dr. Guerrero who performed his tracheotomy and stabilised him through his 59th birthday.
  • Dr. Ricardo and his team of nurses in the main ward.
  • The SIS representatives, Ricardo, José Louis and Alba for being so generous with their financial support.
  • Rosa Johnson’s cousin Sylvio Lagos Espinel, President of the Superior Court of the Northern region of Peru for retrieving and investigating the initial Police report of the incident (RIP: Jan 1st 2017)
  • The doctors who gave me second opinions on his scans, Dr. Mark Eastham (USA), Dr. Kevin O’Niell (UK) and Dr. John Thorpe (UK).
  • Jo Healey at the BABC for donating flights and Swissotel hotel vouchers from her raffle.
  • My church and choir colleagues Brother Richard Edward Helmer, Steve Beecroft, Albert and Marilyn Campbell, Gay Johnson, Scott & Kitty Hayes, Randy Tarpey-Schwed, Terry Peck, Joan Dedo, Colin and Sylvana Wong, Amy Wilson, Isabel Block, Juliana Jensen and Leslie Veen for their prayers, support and time off choir for my travel.
  • Paul Andreini for donating air miles for my hotel on the second visit.
  • Zendy, his private nurse to help us at the Dos de Mayo.
  • Luisa Sologuren, Alvar0 Delgado and Monica Franchy for donating blood.
  • Scanes Bentley for two of my flights to Lima and Denise’s flight home.
  • Matt Searle MBE of the Lucie Blackman Trust for help getting medivac flight quotes.
  • Elisabeth Rojas at the care home and her team of nurses.
  • Silvia Talavera, the visiting neurologist at the care home.
  • Chris Marchington for getting publicity with BBC Hereford early on with Toni McDonald and Elliott Webb and for organising the party.
  • Rosemary Underhay, Carlo (Charles) McCoyPenny Marces and Claudia Sevillano Chávez from the Anglican church for their visits.
  • Claire Trigger for her many voice messages and pictures.
  • Richard Paddon for his support and liaison with Judy Lusby, Will’s sister.
  • Carla Hughes for her recordings and YouTube videos of Will playing with her band.
  • Nordic Naturals for their donation of 6 large bottles of Omega 3 Fish Oil
  • Martha Stafford and Steven Allegra for giving me time off work to fly down 4 times in 4 months and covering my shifts.
  • Nancy the physiotherapist who came in 4 times a week to the care home.
  • Dr. Martin Alfageme who did Will’s 3 monthly check ups and replacement of his tracheo.
  • Chris Munton for running a half marathon and donating all the money to Will.
  • Holly Spice for organising the bands for the Life and Soul of the Party gig
  • The Victory Pub and Jim KenyonMayor of Hereford for donating food and beer.
  • Dr Hugo Siu who performed the critical “fit to fly” examination and written report, for free.
  • Fabiola Aguilar, Vice Consul at the Foreign Office in Lima and her colleague Cynthia Carbajal for their help with Peruvian immigration and paying for the ambulance to Lima airport.
  • Carlos and Frances Crisanto for allowing us to host Will in his last month at their home.
  • His nursing team Maria, César, Jorgé and Giovanna and the home help.
  • Maya Marchington for being the unstoppable force persuading East Surrey Hospital to take Will on his arrival.
  • Jane Griffiths, Deputy Head of Operations at East Surrey Hospital for accepting Will so graciously and Sara Reeve, Logistics Manager, for organising the ambulance and clearances at the airport.
  • Andrew Nash for writing a letter to the Captain to let him know about our special passenger.
  • The Captain and crew of British Airways flight 2238, especially Matt Nolan and Louise Bascombe for their care and kindness throughout the flight.
  • Ambulance team Richard and Karen Hartley for getting him from the aircraft to hospital.

And all of you, the hundreds of people who have donated throughout the 9 months of campaigning.

To my local friends in Mill Valley who supported me through this, Michael Banks, Karin Jordan, Suzannah Rose, Braeda Horan, Pauline Barry, Kate Walton, Allison Levenson, Anna Skacel, Oliver Marks, Jasper Haynes and Ellie Giannone.

I think you will agree that there is one very special person that needs another thousand thank you’s and that is Denise Crisanto.  I have no words to describe the depths of my appreciation, astonishment and amazement at how much she has given of herself to a man she had never met. The dedication, persistence, belief and love she has shown for Will has been truly remarkable and it will always be remembered.

And to Frances Crisanto (and her husband Carlos) for allowing us into their private home to nurse Will and accompany him on his flight home.

And to Chris and Maya Marchington again for getting us over the last giant hurdle hours before take off and for the ongoing publicity on BBC Radio Hereford.

On behalf of Will, thank you one and all.

P.S. Buy travel insurance!!!

Back home at last!

Will has landed at Gatwick and is now in the care of East Surrey Hospital. He had a comfortable flight and the British Airways crew were amazingly helpful and caring and amazed to hear of his adventure.

The ambulance crew come on board to lift him gently onto the stretcher and take him off onto the ambulance.

Richard and Karen Hartley meet Will for the first time on board and prepare to take him off.

The crew say farewell and ask to be kept informed of his progress.

Into the ambulance and off to the hospital.

Into the chilly English air arriving at the hospital.

He is then taken into the Acute Medical Unit to be admitted.

Flight Day

Lima, 4:50pm: I’m watching the live process of Will being transported from Frances’s home to the airport via video feeds from Denise’s iPhone. He is looking well and relaxed and on is way now.

5:14pm:  The typical afternoon traffic keeps the tension high!

7:00pm:  After Frances was not allowed to stay with Will in the ambulance to go through immigration, she and Denise are now through and taking Will’s bags and theirs on board with them.

I’m just happy they’ve got through to this point as they wouldn’t let Frances stay in the ambulance with Will!!

They will get on board as soon as they can and meet up with him while he waits patiently with the doctor in the ambulance at the aircraft side.

7:00pm: Waiting to board.

7:33pm:  The plane was late arriving so Denise had time to do a brief FaceTime call and update with me.  She ended the call as she thought they were being called to go on, but it was a false alarm.  Still waiting.

7:40pm: The Captain has been spotted and he came over to say hello and the crew acknowledged them too.

8:05pm:  First to board and Frances prepares his seat.

8:35pm:  Buckled up and ready to go!

8:50pm: Over an hour late because of the inbound aircraft arriving late, but they are on their way.

God speed Will, Frances and Denise.

Final clearance obtained

I’m happy to report that final medical clearance has been obtained from British Airways for the flight home with ambulances at both ends cleared for aircraft side embarkation and disembarkation.

Major kudos to Maya Marchington for her persistence with East Surrey and the NHS to get the English end sorted in time. It took a lot of telephone calls and legal wrangling to get everyone to bend to her wishes – she is a formidable force! Thank you!!

This means we are confirmed for pick up at Gatwick Airport to take Will and the nurses to East Surrey Hospital for admission. Once we have him settled in we will be able to let you all know which ward he is in to start your visits. I know you are all enthusiastic to see him but please don’t call the hospital to find out any information as I’m sure they will have enough to do!

Pray for a smooth and comfortable flight and some good weather in Gatwick. He won’t be used to the cool weather but I’m sure he will remember it!

I will report again once he has landed and let you all know his status.

Until then may I reiterate how grateful I am to everyone involved who has made this happen, from the Peruvian national health system, the doctors and nurses in the hospital, the care home staff and all the boots on the ground, most especially Denise and Frances.

Hold tight, he’s coming home.

1 week to go

This time next week, France and Denise will be getting Will ready to go in the ambulance off to the airport and meet up with a member of the Foreign Office to go through the immigration exit process.

It’s quite a daunting task for them as he will be in transit from the house for up to an hour and a half and then however long the process takes to get him through immigration and on board the aircraft.  As you know, these planes go back and forth with only a refuel and short break while passengers disembark and it gets cleaned and restocked for the return flight.  Timing everything will be nail biting as he needs to be turned and fed, cleaned and aspirated constantly.  Pray for a smooth transition from here to the aircraft and then the 11 hours in the air.

A foot operated aspirator. Far too big and heavy for the aircraft!

Denise and I went into central Lima to find a manual aspirator we needed for the flight but after a dozen different shops came up with nothing other than something out of the 1950’s, which would work but not be practical on board!

A hand operated aspirator which is much lighter and can be rented for 2 weeks.

So we finally opted to rent a more modern one but we have to go back and pick it up even further away today!

I won’t see Jorgé (George) again before I leave, so we said our goodbyes and exchanged emails so he could be kept in touch with Will’s progress once he is back in England.  Each nurse does 12 and 24 hour shifts so they become quite attached to him, developing their own non verbal interactions and understanding of how he is feeling. Jorgé is kind and gentle and is amazed how strong Will has been.

I leave very late tonight, frustrated that we still don’t have the destination secured once he gets to Gatwick but we are assured we will have one in time.  I will be monitoring the situation constantly as I travel back even though I leave immediately to Texas for 4 days to meet my Mum, my sister and my two nieces, and my newest great niece and great nephew for the first time!

Keep Will in your thoughts and prayers until he is safely in NHS care.


10 days to go

Just 10 more days and Will gets on his British Airways flight and escorted back to Gatwick.  It’s been a really long time for him to be in this state and even though he has made some progress he is still very weak and prone to chest infections, requiring his blood oxygen levels to be monitored closely and when necessary go through the painful ordeal of having his chest cleared by suction.

He is surrounded by good energy and positive people who always acknowledge him and talk to him throughout his long days in the heat.

This week we are due to get a confirmation of hospital location and tie up the last loose ends of ambulance clearances at each airport and inform British Airways of the final details.

We are also hoping to hear final acceptance of support from the Midland Air Ambulance Charity who have offered a loan for the final costs which will be paid back from events and donations.  We need this money in the bank to keep paying the nurses and costs until he is in the hands of the NHS.

Be prepared to help when he gets home with the most valuable contribution you can make – your time. He will need visits constantly to keep his spirits up and assure him that he is now home with friends and family.

BBC Hereford & Worcester broadcast

Here is the link to the recorded programme from this morning’s broadcast on the Toni and Elliott Breakfast show on BBC Hereford & Worcester.

Our interviews are at 6:07 (7 minutes in), 7:07 (1 hour 7 minutes) and then at 8:07 with the Mayor of Hereford, Jim Kenyon who hosted the recent Soul of the Party gig at his pub.