Monthly Archives: July 2019

My view on resuscitating people changed when my brother, Trevor, suffered a cardiac arrest in the first quarter of an AFL match.

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Once the paramedics arrived, it took a long time to descend from the high stadium seats Trevor had been so pleased about obtaining for the match between St Kilda and Geelong. His heart had stopped for more than 40 minutes and we were all completely behind his medical team in their fight to “bring him back”. It was traumatic watching him lying in ICU with tubes all over the place, machines bleeping and nurses constantly monitoring everything, but all we could think was, “Please save him!”

Even after he started breathing, we still had no idea whether we would ever see the Trevor we knew again, nor did the doctors. Being told that he had a “severe hypoxic brain injury” meant nothing to us. We just wanted to know basic stuff like whether he would be able to walk, talk, speak and understand us.

I feel awful saying this now, but at the time we may have been told the full extent of what could happen to him if he pulled through. But none of us could recall it – we just wanted him to live, and this would come back to haunt us.

Trevor spent three-and-a-half months in hospital. Part of the recovery process of brain damage is major mood swings that include frustration and aggression. I could never get used to seeing him restrained in his bed, but after being subjected to a headlock and then an attempt to smash my head into a wall, I accepted that it was necessary for everyone’s safety.

Trevor was moved to a rehabilitation centre and we thought everything would begin to improve. He could walk, eat his own meals, was starting to dress himself and look after his own grooming. But his brain injury had left Trevor with aphasia. He had trouble getting the words he wanted to say out in the right order. By constantly showing him photos of his life and then introducing words to match them, Trevor began to figure out ways to communicate with us.

But suddenly everything started to go downhill medically. Trevor’s bowel shut down and he went from 103kgs to 73kgs in a couple of months. He was slowly dying before our eyes. We had to pay a carer to sit with him and assist with his meals to ensure he received the nutrition he needed.

The rehabilitation centre insisted that Trevor be moved elsewhere as they didn’t feel he could improve any further. Trevor moved into an aged care facility because nowhere else could provide the level of support and care he now required. Trevor was once a “chick magnet” with plenty of friends and a busy social life – now he lives in an aged care facility at the young age of 55.

There is simply no funding to support people like Trevor, and Victoria’s Department of Human Services now has a policy where those under 50 years of age get priority of access to services and they jump over Trevor in the queue. He is effectively denied any chance of getting the support he needs to live in the community and he was just past his 51st birthday when he had his cardiac arrest.

WATCH: Should all patients be resuscitated?

My attitude about resuscitation has changed completely after seeing what has happened to Trevor since he was “brought back”. At the time we desperately wanted Trevor to live – at any cost. Even though he appears happy enough in himself, I now look back and wonder whether the right thing was done for him. I love Trevor with all my heart but I just know he wouldn’t really want to live like this.

Having seen Trevor’s outcome, I have told my husband that if he ever comes home and finds me having a heart attack, I want him to go back out again and come home in a few hours. I would not want to live like Trevor, and I would not want my husband to give up his life to visit me every week if the same thing happened to me.

Some people are very lucky and come back after “dying” with little or no damage, and they are able to continue on with their lives. Perhaps if Trevor had received the intensive rehabilitation therapies he needed early on, he may well have been further along the road to recovery. Was it right to prolong Trevor’s life if this is all it is going to be with what the Victorian state system offers? If I had a choice now, the answer would be a definite, “NO”.

Wendy Veitch is a guest on tonight’s episode of Insight on SBS ONE at 8.30pm. The program explores how medical science is pushing the boundaries of death, with doctors now to able to resuscitate some patients even an hour after they have ‘died’. Speaking to people who have ‘come back from the dead’ and doctors with conflicting viewpoints, Insight asks whether we should be reviving people just because we can.

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Dressed in a fire-truck red leather suit, he blended urban comedy and impressions, with observational humour and stories from his childhood – punctuated by two particular four-lettered words a total of 401 times.

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But he closed with this:

“I think maybe, like, 30 years ago there was a woman that wanted to sing… and this place was, like, segregated and she couldn’t sing here,” he said.

“And here we are, like, not even 50 years later. A 22-year-old black male on stage is getting paid to hold his d***. God bless America.”

The man was Eddie Murphy; and after a career that’s brought him dizzying highs and humiliating lows both on-screen and off, he’s joining the likes of Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope as the host of next year’s Academy Awards.

While his live stand-up shows “Delirious” and “Raw” remain the stuff of legend, in recent years he’s shed almost any trace of his edgy roots, trading “Beverly Hills Cop” for “Daddy Day Care”.

As a result, many (including yours truly) are eagerly anticipating which Eddie Murphy will actually show up to host Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.

And if he fails to make any references to cookouts, bigfoots or beating children with shoes, I’ma shoot Jimmy Walker in the lips.

The news wasn’t nearly as good for Wesley Snipes this week, who has failed to overturn his conviction on tax charges.

Oliver Stone, meanwhile, is reportedly due to travel to Iran, where his son, Sean, has begun laying the groundwork for a new documentary.

And the makers of the new James Bond film have been forced to change one of their stunts, after India’s minister for railways hit the roof.

That last crack makes a lot more sense if you watch the video.

Follow Manny Tsigas on Twitter @mantsig

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The ruthless All Blacks are promising no respite for the Wallabies when they seek to lock up the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th consecutive year in Wellington on Saturday.

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Unbeaten in New Zealand since 2009, the All Blacks are raging favourites to retain trans-Tasman bragging rights with a 15th straight win over the Wallabies on home soil.

But the humble world champions are refusing to count their chickens despite piling on six tries in Saturday night’s 47-29 romp in the opening Bledsloe Cup game in Sydney.

Skipper Richie McCaw says with the margins so fine at the top there can be no room for complacency.

“There’s very, very little between these teams and if you don’t get the prep right and you don’t turn up and put the performances out there, you come second,” he said.

“So if you start thinking that you’re better than you are, you’ll tip up.

“I think that’s the greatest challenge in sport – to back up performance after performance.

“It’s easy when you have a bad one or come second to get that motivation. It’s being able to make sure you do that when you have had a win.

“That’s the way we look at it.”

McCaw had no trouble playing 72 minutes in his first Test back after a nine-month sabbatical and will be looking to go the distance in the return clash at Westpac Stadium.

Coach Steve Hansen said Steven Luatua would continue to deputise for injured flanker Liam Messam, while man-of-the-match Aaron Cruden will look to make the five-eighth position, which injured star Dan Carter once had a mortgage on, his own for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.

In a Carter-esque display, Cruden notched 22 points at ANZ Stadium from a try, four conversions and three penalties, all while controlling the slick All Blacks backline with precision and guile.

Hansen, though, warned the Wallabies that his side would be looking to be even more clinical on Saturday.

“We did a number of things pretty effectively but there’s a lot of stuff we have to get better at,” he said.

“We weren’t overly happy with our set piece and the connection from our set piece to our backs at times wasn’t great either.

“We’ll work hard and see if we can create some more opportunities next week.”

Hansen said it would be foolish to start celebrating.

“It’s one thing to be a winning team, but you’ve got to be humble and keep your feet on the floor because you want to win again next week,” he said.

“The Bledisloe Cup, you have to win twice. So we haven’t done anything yet.

“We’ve only done a small part of the job and until we win two, we don’t own it.”

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With Khan’s arrival U.

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S. sports franchise owners now control six of the 20 clubs in the world’s richest football league, reflecting an explosion in interest in the game in the United States and a growing trend among owners to seek global networks.

Investors like the Glazer family at Manchester United, Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke and Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry at Liverpool have been drawn by the Premier League’s ability to generate vast sums of TV cash and support from fans all over the world.

“The Premier League obviously has a huge global audience,” says the moustachioed Khan, who was born in Pakistan and already owns Florida’s Jacksonville Jaguars in American football.

“It’s got a great media deal, it’s got great leadership at the top and most importantly a very, very passionate fan base and it’s an excellent business platform,” he told Reuters.

As a new season kicks off this weekend, television deals at home and abroad have allowed the English top flight to put the dark hooligan days of the 1980s behind it.

The league’s 20 clubs will share annual TV revenues of around 1.7 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) thanks to new broadcast deals starting this month.

Underlining the growing interest in the United States, NBC has bought the rights there for the next three years, paying an estimated $250 million to unseat Fox. There are now an estimated 24 million Americans playing football compared to 100,000 in 1967.

“Soccer is on the rise big time,” Khan said, commenting on the game’s growing U.S. profile. “I think Fulham can get its fair share of fans and we want to help them do that, playing friendlies in Jacksonville next year,” he added.

To try to build his NFL team’s international profile, Khan is bringing the Jaguars to London’s Wembley Stadium to play a game in each of the next four seasons.

SOBERING UP

The U.S. influx comes at a turning point for English football as a business.

After a decade in which rich Russian and Arab owners have poured hundreds of millions of pounds into winning the Premier League title at Chelsea and Manchester City, the European game’s governing body UEFA is striving to force clubs to run tighter and more sustainable budgets.

Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal, starved of success but reliably in the upper reaches of the league, have created one model admired by the game’s financial planners, generating operating profits of 20 million or more annually.

Champions Manchester United have seen around 100 million pounds in annual EBITDA profit in each of the past three years, allowing them to service the debts – controversial with many of the club’s fans – that the Glazers took out when they bought the club for 790 million pounds in 2005.

At Fulham, whose stadium on the banks of the Thames sees crowds of a third to at most half of those at the bigger clubs, the sums are much tighter and dominated by the threat of relegation out of the top flight.

Fulham’s revenues for 2011-12 were 79 million pounds – a quarter of what Manchester United generated in the same season.

“The key challenge for me is that it’s got to be sustainable for the long haul,” said Khan.

“The investments we have to make – obviously in the squad but more importantly in the stadium – are something that will generate the revenue so we will get into a virtuous circle.”

THE PRICE OF FAILURE

The Financial Fair Play regime being implemented by UEFA is second nature to Americans where mechanisms like salary caps and a luxury tax levy are in place to regulate spending by sports franchises.

At Fulham, former owner Mohamed Al Fayed pumped some 200 million pounds into the club after taking it over in 1997, loans he converted into shares earlier this year before selling up.

Fulham and fellow U.S.-owned clubs Sunderland and Aston Villa are among a group of teams whose initial ambition is to garner enough points to avoid finishing in the bottom three of the Premier League and losing their place in the elite.

American sports franchises do not have to deal with that system of promotion and relegation with the big swings in income that it can bring.

Khan, who paid an estimated $770 million to buy the Jaguars less than two years ago, says that the annual threat of demotion makes it cheaper to buy a Premier League club than to acquire an equivalent NFL franchise.

“The risk of relegation prices teams less than they would be in a closed league,” he said.

“I think it’s a simple matter of economics.”

(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Patrick Graham)

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Mwanza airport, bound for Kigoma.

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Mwanza is Tanzania’s second largest city after Dar es Salaam…. with an airport terminal like 1950s Broken Hill.

It’s like everything in this part of the world – utilised to the maximum, showing its wear and tear, but achieving its purpose – although the absence of a luggage carousel created a near riot as bags were shoved through a slot on the wall to a crowd of impatient and jostling travellers.

But amazingly it all worked. I’m in the jump seat next to our pilot, Augustine, in his single engine Cessna “grand caravan”, hoping this vantage point will prove good for filming. All the while I was thinking “gee, my Dad would love this!”, being the aircraft enthusiast he is. It really is something else seeing the landscape from the air, from the grassy plains to the rolling hills and jagged mountains giving way to the sculpted shore of Lake Victoria – the human eye does a much better job of it than any camera through the perspex windows can.

Kigoma airport appears scanter still, if that’s possible. We don’t even enter the building, ushered instead to a waiting car that takes us to the local refugee management headquarters where we go through the necessary protocols. “We were expecting you last night so that we could start early today”. “Yes, we missed our plane, so have to make the most of what time we have. Our charter flight leaves at 3.15 pm, so we must be swift.” “But the camp is two hours away.” Oh boy, nobody had told us that. It’s already 10.30, the formalities haven’t concluded yet; by the time we hit the road and arrive at the camp I’ll have barely half an hour of filming before we have to return.

Twenty minutes more and we were finally on our way. Our driver has made this journey more times than he has said “jambo!”, knows every rut and pothole on the road, and doesn’t hold back. Who knew Toyotas had such pace?! We arrive at the Mtabila refugee camp an hour and a half later, just after 12.30, flying through the gates and down a dusty track, past mud huts and kids playing, past a UN truck unloading food supplies – all potentially fantastic vision except for the fact another round of formalities has to be completed before I am allowed to film anything. I had hoped for at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted shooting so that I could get scene setting vision for my story, but the camp administrators have arranged four refugees for interviews.

The Mtabila camp, home to some 38,000 Burundian refugees, is scheduled to close at the end of December, as the Tanzanian government winds back its role as the region’s safe haven. For the past 40 years Tanzania has given shelter and safety to citizens of neighbouring countries fleeing violence, and believes that improvements in regional stability mean it can say it has done its duty. Tanzania is well into a program of systematically winding back the camps, working with the United Nations to relocate or repatriate most citizens, and offer Tanzanian citizenship to others. After 26 years of operation, Mtabila is the next to go.

(A shipment of donated goods is a big event in the camp. This load appears to contain guitars. musical instruments are prized, with many making their own from whatever’s at hand.)

As I set up for the interviews I manage to film a couple short sequences of Perth police officer Don Emanuel Smith, who’s over by a UN truck getting to know some of the camp’s children. Don is the Officer in Charge of the West Metropolitan Crime Prevention and Cultural Diversity Office, based in Mirrabooka, home to Australia’s largest concentration of Africans. Years of working in remote Aboriginal communities have given him a genuine ability to identify with people of all backgrounds, and a special affinity with children. His ability to laugh and joke and win their confidence transcends any challenges of language and culture and soon he’s surrounded by a gaggle of children and adults alike.

I wish I was filming closer, picking up the colour and sounds and emotion of the moment, but my patient interviewees await. It is not an easy thing to share your life story with a total stranger who has a camera trained you, and I deeply appreciate the efforts of the camp staff in finding people willing and able to speak. It would have been unforgivably inconsiderate to not give them my full respect and attention, no matter how tempting the filming opportunities over their shoulder.

(Don Emanuel Smith, 2011 West Australian police officer of the year.)

I begin recording and it comes tumbling out – the stories of bloodshed and persecution, the struggle to flee, the gratitude for Tanzania’s generous gift of a safe haven, the uncertainty of their future after the camp’s closure, and their desperate fear, fuelled by deep trauma, of being returned to a home they no longer regard as safe, despite the assurances of authorities. One man tells how he is the only survivor of his entire family, having witnessed the killings of his parents, his siblings, his wife and his children. Another has just the vestige of a nose, having been shot in the face. Here’s one with relatives in Australia, but his efforts to join them there have been unsuccessful, leaving him isolated, disconnected, despondent.

It is the story of refugees the world over – the heart wrenching decision to flee, the search for safety, the insecurity that even as you eke out a temporary existence in a camp someone could track you down, the desire to return home quashed by a mountainous dread of the potential consequences, and the exhausting, often disappointing process of trying to find a land that will take you in and give you opportunity. The air here is imbued with doubt. Those refugees without other options who do not agree to voluntarily return home face repatriation under Tanzania’s Immigration Act. To say emotions are taut is an understatement.

(The scars run deeper than those you see on his face.)

As I’m recording I feel I’m already letting these people down. Only a fraction of what they share with me will make it to your TV screen, such are the time constraints of news services. More will make it onto radio, and hopefully, online. But even news is driven by demand and is acutely attuned to the turn-off factor. I wonder whether our global society has become desensitised to the plight of people in such desperate need?

In Australia for instance it appears to me that there’s an element of active resentment of refugees, of outright opposition to those seeking asylum, and none too subtle racism against new arrivals trying to rebuild their lives in a strange land. I so desperately want to gather up all the naysayers and bring them here for a month in the hope they may begin to truly understand what it’s all about … I know it could be argued that I have some degree of opportunity to do just that through my reportage, but the fact is that no-one else’s interpretation, no matter how skilled the reporter or incisive the footage, can match actually being there and experiencing it for yourself.

(Scenes from the Mtabila Camp, not far from the Burundi border.)

Despite looking each of them in the eyes whilst shaking their hands and wishing them the most heartfelt ‘good luck”, I suspect they’ve heard it all before. It’s moments such as this I detest being a slave to the clock, but I’m being urged onwards, to be taken to see a choir perform. I’ve already visited Burundians who’ve made it to Perth and filmed their choir , as part of a narrative of the Burundian refugee journey. By now I’m literally filming while I’m walking. No time even to set the tripod on the ground, as I’m being shepherded towards the waiting vehicle. I get a quick picture of some children waving in the distance, and a shot of women awaiting under a large shelter to fill out resettlement application forms, but it’s too quick, filmed from too far, too shaky. I know my hopes of spending time with some of them in their houses, building a rapport and and bringing a greater insight into these suspended lives is a dream dashed.

(Youngsters getting water. In the background are the women wanting to apply for resettlement.)

Back in the car and we’re hurtling along a treacherous track, some places with half metre washouts, in order to get to the camp church. Too fast and too bumpy for filming out the window, though I try. Even a few seconds of clear footage is valuable now. When we arrive at the church, a cluster of kids greets us, and I figure if I’m going to do a quick wrap in front of the camera, this is the only chance I’ll get. But I hit trouble. Acutely aware of the clock ticking I just can’t get it right, my mind blanks and the words just won’t come. On the third attempt I’m almost there when I stumble. “dinghindignnnnrrrgh!!” Head in hands I vent my frustration, prompting a terrified plume of kids to scatter behind me, scared to bits by this crazy woman! I realise what’s happening and entreat them to return, promising I won’t do it again. It lightens the tension and the next take, though hurried, is useable.

I swing around the camera to set up to film the choir – but they’re not there. They are still fetching their instruments. But wait, these three men are choristers – one of them is the choir leader who turns out to be the man I’d earlier interviewed with the gunshot wound to the face – and they offer to sing. What a song it is. Their voices are instruments in themselves, requiring no accompaniment. This is my chance to film some of the faces in the crowd, and capture a glimpse of the spirit that sustains these men, women and children – people just like us – facing situations most of us simply cannot comprehend. I get the signal that it’s time to go, but there’s one thing I need and don’t have.

I turn to Don; “get your guitar, quick”. Don’s an accomplished songwriter and has lugged his beloved Maton all the way from Australia to share his songs with the camp. There’s no time for a proper performance, but at the very least I want to see him using the universal language of music to cement the bond he’s been forging here. It takes a few moments for him to find the key but soon magic happens, a melodic bridge has spanned from Perth to Mtabila. As they finish up, Don turns to the children and breaks into a rock’n’roll riff. Squeals of delight! Kids jump up and down and dance on the spot, a spontaneous burst of joy amidst a surreal situation in this limbo land.

(Don has a Maton, these boys have a made-one.)

(The three choristers are joined by a little girl outside the Mtabila church.)

But the fun can’t last. We have a plane to catch and barely an hour and a half to make the return journey. There’s no way we want to miss another flight, not after our tanzanite adventure, and it’s a case of pedal to the metal. Not even bothering now to slow for speed humps and bridges, our driver is determined to get us back in time. About 40 kilometres from Kigoma I think I can hear an unusual sound, something scraping, certainly different to what we’ve been hearing. I mention it to the driver but he assures me all is fine.

Even though I don’t want to cause any undue delays, I am sure I can hear something. After a few kilometres the driver pulls up and Don jumps out and does a quick inspection, but can’t spot anything untoward. Obviously I was worried about nothing. We’re back up to speed , pushing on the Kigoma when 5 minutes later flt flt flt ping flt rattle rattle rattle. This time I’m definitely not imagining things – it sounds like a handful of gravel has been tossed into the wheel well. We pull over and the driver says he can’t see a flat tyre – but then eagle eyed Don points to the rear driver’s side tyre which has all but stripped its outer casing and has flaps of rubber hanging off it with exposed canvas. Not flat, true, but not far from it.

Don takes charge. “Tyre change! where’s the jack?” as he pulls open the rear door. Within 30 second he’s loosening the wheel nuts to release the damaged tyre. The driver is crouched behind him watching. As soon as the nuts are slack Don’s manoeuvring the jack on the sloping ground. This is my chance to grab to brace and undo the nuts holding the spare. By the time the car is elevated, I’m ready to go. “You get that off and I’ll put this on”, as I heft this huge 4WD wheel off its mount and carry it around the corner of the vehicle. Amazing what you can do when you have to. It was the Aussie tyre changing dream team; both of us knew exactly what needed to be done and it happened like clockwork. Bung wheel stowed, nuts tightened, jack lowered and we were done. Tyre change in under 5 minutes.

(Thought I was filthy after the tanzanite mine yesterday? My clothes were even worse after this effort! Check the tyre tread – or lack of it.)

Pedal to the metal once more. We made it to the airport at 3.13 for our 3.15 flight! Augustine the pilot played dodgem with storm clouds to get us safely to Mwanza. A salad roll on the flight from Mwanza to Dar was the first food to pass our lips all day, but I can honestly say i don’t think any of us noticed. Thinking back to my first blog when Gwenda of Adelaide requested more food photos, well Gwenda, the culinary opportunities have been a bit thin on the ground! But we’re due to fly to Zanzibar tomorrow for a story on the spice trade – I promise I’ll do my best to post you some mouthwatering pics of that!!

PHOTO GALLERY: The Faces of Mtabila

(Karen Ashford travelled to Tanzania at the invitation of the Tanzanian government)

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