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PRESS RELEASE – Consultant Physician at Victoria Hospital (VH), Dr. Martin Didier has added his voice to recent pronouncements by Dr. Lisa Charles admonishing the common practice of mixing marijuana and tobacco which causes lung poisoning leaving many young people gasping for breath.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease which makes it difficult for one to breath. COPD includes two main illnesses, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most people who develop COPD have both of these conditions.
Dr. Didier highlighted over the past five years or more he has observed a steady trend of young men and women, presenting with severe cases of COPD. He ascribes this increasing trend to the common practice of smoking marijuana rolled in with cigarettes (tobacco) as the primary cause.
“The reasons are many. They say it’s because of cost, they say it’s because of taste but the end result is that it’s a toxin, it’s a poison…Tobacco contains over 4,000 toxic substances which destroys your lungs. Marijuana for all we know is less toxic, probably contains up to 400 but the combination of smoking marijuana and tobacco they interact and it changes the whole thing into a poison. A poison which destroys the structure and function of the lungs with a lot of consequences.” Didier asserted.
Many COPD patients who present at VH began smoking in their early teens. By late twenties, early thirties their lungs and destroyed and they become what Dr. Dider describes as “Respiratory Cripples.”
“Respiratory Cripples because they cannot breath without coming to hospital, without medication, without oxygen. They cannot even go to the bathroom, they cannot even sleep. The spend the whole night just trying to get their breath. And the message I want to send to young men who are smoking marijuana. If you want to smoke marijuana that’s a choice you have to make. Marijuana can cause lung disease and there is going to be many if’s or buts about whether it does or not. But good god, do not wrap or smoke the marijuana with tobacco because what you do is that you convert the whole thing into a lung poison which will destroy your lungs.”
The Consultant Physician lamented over the many of the young men and women who are tuning up at Victoria Hospital and cannot be sent home due to the fact that they are solely dependent on the hospital. They can’t breath without the assistance of an oxygen tank and tubes and can’t work or do anything for themselves and lack the family and financial support needed to take care of their medical expenses.
“And so the hospital is left to bear the burden of that and we have a whole ward which is filled with these respiratory cripples. Just like when you get a stroke and you become a cripple it is the same thing and that is holding up the care of other people who have simple things like pneumonia, even a stroke, heart attacks because the bed space is taken up by these gentlemen and women for months at a time. ”
We observed one of the COPD patients, Agustin Joseph, who practically lives at VH, struggle to carry himself from a chair near his bedside to his bed, a mere foot away.
“From the chair to the bed it was so hard it was like 15 steps I have to go up, upside down.” Joseph explain.
It was difficult interviewing Joseph as he appeared to struggle though every breath he took with visibly high chest lifts while simultaneously breathing through his nostrils with oxygen tubes attached and an opened mouth.
Joseph however had a strong message directed at anyone who is still smoking particularly young men and women. The night before this interview Joseph witness one of his close friends die from COPD on the bed right next to his.
“Check how smoking have me and it’s smoking marijuana and tobacco that affect the lungs. So the message I really want to send out there is to tell them stop smoking, just to free up their lungs, free up themselves. If I had seen one person like me before, I would never go into that so deep or if I had known the damage it was doing or if I know I would have been so one day, I would have never smoked marijuana and tobacco.” he lamented.
Joseph admitted being hospitalized at VH every month from 2014 to 2015. His finances he says are now completely depleted. Though he has family members both locally and overseas he says he doesn’t depend on them.
“I am a big man I cannot depend on my brothers and sisters all the time because they have their children, they have their life, you know. And in the beginning they always used to tell me stop smoking marijuana, them Rasta life you know. So right now, I have to do what I have to do. I can’t depend on them, is more the hospital that can relieve me. So when I feel down, I run to the hospital. I have to call the ambulance and the ambulance carry me out where ever I am and bring me to the hospital.” Joseph stated.
Joseph has witness at least nine of his close COPD friends die both beside him or in rooms near by. He appeals to the youth to stop smoking”because it’s not a cup of milk on your chest, its fire…The mixture of marijuana and tobacco, it’s a deadly weapon.”
In line with transitioning efforts to Owen King EU Hospital the medical staff at the Victoria Hospital have planned an aggressive public education and sensitization campaign to encourage the public to work side by side with hospital officials by being more concerned about their health.