By Denise Scott
Fifteen years ago, Giselle Bartholomew’s ten-year-old godson Akil desperately needed a liver transplant. His family had travelled to Argentina as their last hope to get it done. They were the first Trinidadians to attempt this, and his mother was to be his donor, but while in Argentina it was discovered that she would die if she went through with the transplant.
The thought of her beautiful God son dying, was too much to bear so Giselle donated her own liver to him.
I found this to be a touching story in the midst of how lightly most people choose their children’s godparents today. Had the story ended here, we would all simply say praise God. But the story of Giselle Bartholomew was so much deeper than this.
Two years ago, Akil’s liver started acting up again and Giselle was distraught. She prayed her rosary daily and held on to God’s mercy as she had done one year earlier when her older sister, Debra had bleeding in her brain and everyone thought she would die. Her prayers had saved Debra, so she continued to pray. One morning in June 2019, Giselle suddenly collapsed and her heart stopped beating. They all thought it was the end. They called in Fr Ashton Pierre, their parish priest who prayed for her and in what seemed like a miracle, she was resuscitated after 54 minutes.
It was later discovered that Giselle had a blood clot in her lungs. She would go on to live for only two more days. Just long enough for friends and relatives from home and abroad to get their chance to say goodbye. She requested the viaticum from Fr Robert Christo, who came and anointed her for the last time. She hung around long enough for Akil, her godson who received her liver 15 years ago to come from Point Fortin so that she could say goodbye. He was very ill at this time and his liver had started to fail again. They said he would need another transplant to survive, but he wanted to say goodbye to his godmother. They spent an hour together. After he left, her levels started fluctuating again, and her blood pressure plummeted. It was a painful time for her family so they left. Right after that, she died.
Then suddenly one week after her passing, her godson’s blood levels stabilised and he has not been in the hospital since. Another miracle it would seem. Her sister Debra drew this piece of Mother Theresa for an exhibition, all the other pieces were sold except this one piece.
She saw this as a sign. She put it in Giselle’s coffin to protect her and to also let her know that she believed “that she was a saint, and that she had fulfilled her life’s purpose”.
The story of Giselle Bartholomew drew me to the Bible verse John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.