US-based Jamaican nurse in coma needs urgent support

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Dezene Thompson-Powell, and Venesia Parkins have been best friends for many years.

The two have always believed in being each other’s keeper, so it should come as no surprise that Thompson-Powell is leading a call for good Samaritans to assist Parkins, who has been in a coma for the past month.

Parkins, a 33-year-old Jamaican nurse residing in the United States of America (USA), suffered a cardiac arrest earlier in April after her heart reportedly went into a bad rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation. Thompson-Powell told the Jamaica Observer that though doctors were able to shock her best friend’s heart back to a normal rhythm, Parkins’ brain was deprived of oxygen, which resulted in her suffering from multiple strokes on both sides of her brain.

She has been in the hospital since April 10, and Thompson-Powell has launched a GoFundMe account in the hope that good Samaritans will provide monetary support to the woman whom she said has given so much of herself to those she loves.

For Thompson-Powell, the news of her best friend’s cardiac arrest came as a surprise. The pair has created many happy moments together, with Parkins serving as maid of honour at Thompson-Powell’s wedding, and Thompson-Powell being the Godmother of her best friend’s two sons.

The two have been inseparable and have held each other’s hand through tough times. However, according to Thompson-Powell, she was not expecting to learn that her best friend had suffered severe brain damage.

“It has been surreal. Visiting her in the hospital and looking at her in the condition that she is in, just lying there, it is just still unbelievable to me that she is in the situation. At such a tender age of 33 years old, it is not like she is an older person that we’re expecting this to happen to, so we are still trying to wrap our heads around it,” she told the Sunday Observer.

As she reminisced on the happy times they have shared, Thompson-Powell said that she is determined to stand by her best friend’s side during the “trying time”. Parkins’ family is attempting to raise US$50,000 to cover her medical bills and rehabilitation process and she is playing a lead role in assisting them.

“She doesn’t forget a birthday, an anniversary, or any special event in her friends’ lives. She has a heart of gold and loves abundantly,” Thompson-Powell said.

Parkins’ family, Thompson-Powell said, is clinging to hope that Parkins, who served as the school nurse at St James-based Herbert Morrison Technical High School, will pull through. She further told the Sunday Observer that she fondly remembers a recent selfless act done by her best friend. Though it was not unusual for Parkins to lend a helping hand to her, Thomspon-Powell shared that this memory has stuck with her as it shows their friendship.

“I had a job that started the other day, and my babysitter just up and left the night before without a word. Once I told her about it, she was ready to go. She packed her son in her car and drove almost four hours, so I could go to work and establish myself for that week until I could find another babysitter. She did that without even thinking twice about it,” Thompson-Powell told the Sunday Observer.

She continued, “She is the most loveable person that I know. I literally get goosebumps saying that…because she is selfless. She will go above and beyond for the people in her life, which is why it is so hard to know that she is in the situation she is in right now because she does not deserve it, and it hurts deeply. She is reliable, she is dependable, and she loves unconditionally.”

Thompson-Powell is appealing to the hearts of good Samaritans for monetary donations towards Parkins’ road to recovery. While she has been in a coma for a month, she is confident that her best friend will go on to lead a normal life after accessing rehabilitation and other medical assistance.

“Apart from my kids, this is the most important thing in my life now because I am a nurse myself, and looking at her situation right now, I know it is going to be a long road ahead, so she is going to need all the help that she can get including rehabilitation and getting her back to a functional capacity,” she explained.

Since its launch, the GoFundMe account in aid of Parkins has raised US$11,424. Those wanting to assist can donate at

“We are going to need all the help that we can get, so we really need to raise all the money that we can, to go towards helping her recuperate,” said Thompson-Powell.

“Any help we can get will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance to all the donors, and for all the donations,” she added.