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Lonnie Robinson, a brave fighter

Lonnie Robinson, a brave fighter

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In 2005, Lonnie Robinson suffered a near fatal accident. That accident, one week after he celebrated his 18th birthday, left him with a paralysed left arm and severe head and facial injuries.{{more}}

The Penniston resident, who is now 21 years old, will have to carry those scars for the rest of his life.

Looking back, Lonnie said, even though he has mixed emotions about the bicycle/motor vehicular accident, which almost claimed his life in Campden Park on October 9th, 2008, generally he is happy.

Lonnie kicked off his interview with ‘Where Are They Now?’ on a positive note: “I feel as fit as a horse.” This is a stark contrast to the words he uttered in his first interview with SEARCHLIGHT in February 2006. Back then he said: “There really seems to be no solution right now to ease the pain.”

At the time, Lonnie was facing a mountain of problems: A severe trauma to his head; a six-inch skull fracture; face and dental trauma; and severe nerve injury that had caused the paralysis to his left arm. He also suffered wastage of the muscle in that arm, resulting in the dislocation of his left shoulder. The young man was also placed on a meningitis watch.

Flashback one week prior to the accident, Lonnie’s life was like this: He was a dynamic participant in activities at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College and held the post of President of the Student Council, with big dreams of becoming a meteorologist. Plus he had just celebrated his 18th birthday on October 1, 2005.

All that changed in a flash.

The accident left Lonnie facing medical expenses estimated at US$500,000.Thanks to the Rotary Club of St. Vincent South, the lad was able to access medical treatment through the International Hospital for Children’s Organization free of cost at the MCV Medical Hospital and at the St.Mary’s Hospital in Virginia free of charge.

His reconstructive surgeries were carried out on March 22nd, March 29th, April 6th, December 2006, as well as in January 2007. In all, nine surgeries were conducted on the young man; four on his arm alone.

The first surgery corrected a leak from Lonnie’s brain by implanting two steel plates in his skull to seal three holes through which fluid once flowed. His second surgery was done on the lower section of his right jaw. This area was re-broken and placed in its correct position and areas where bones were missing, artificial bones were used as well as two metal plates.

Lonnie’s doctors fought hard to restore mobility to his arm but to no avail. They went as far as conducting a Gracilis Free Muscle Transfer during the last surgery on the arm. This involved taking a muscle from his right leg and attaching it to his bicep area, as well as using a nerve between his rib area to supply that muscle. This surgery took over 10 hours but was unsuccessful in the end due to an infection that Lonnie picked up.

“The doctors said I had one last chance of restoring some use to my arm by redoing the surgery, using a similar muscle from my other leg. I refused to do it because at the time that would have been the fifth surgery in about two months, and my body was feeling pretty drained,” said Lonnie.

“I told him (doctor) I believe in miracles. It is a miracle I am alive. The same way God could have saved my life in that accident it is the same way he can restore my arm just as he had healed the paralysed when Jesus Christ was on earth,” Lonnie sighed.

Lonnie went on to do two other surgeries. The last was done by a plastic surgeon who took a cartilage from his left ear to widen his right nostril. The plastic surgeon also used the opportunity to remove some keloids, some of which grew back.

“When I see the lesser impact that kills people these days, I am quite happy with what I came out with. Doctors said I had a fifty per cent chance of survival. The fact that I am one hundred per cent alive I am quite happy,” said Lonnie.

The young man recently passed the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and is currently in the process of applying to a college in the United States to pursue his dreams of becoming a meteorologist.

Reminiscing on the dark days of his life, Lonnie said he still has mixed emotions.

“In one sense I am happy to be here. In the other sense I am sad that the law had to be so biased in this incident.”

Lonnie is the only child of Artis and Daphne Robinson, of Penniston.