700 get free heart surgery - Doctor finds passion in helping others

May 31, 2016
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Dr William Foster
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Hortense Lester-Coleman is filled with nothing but praises for Dr Foster
Patrick Planter/ Photographer A letter written by one of the many people Dr Foster has helped.
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Dr William Foster

- Doctor finds passion in helping others

For more than 30 years, Dr William Foster has cemented himself as the Good Samaritan of cardiology in Jamaica, with persons travelling from all parts of the island for him to assist them with getting heart surgery abroad.

According to the cardiologist of over 40 years, he has helped more than 700 persons with receiving well-needed heart surgery for free since 1984. "Six persons that I was treating at the time (1984) could not afford to have surgery done, so I set out to get the surgery for them free from doctors abroad and it all worked out," he said.

Since then, hundreds of Jamaicans have been referred to Foster by other cardiologists who are not able to finance any type of heart surgery which, he says, starts at J$700,000.

Beaming with pride, Foster showed THE STAR a long list of the persons who he had helped over the years. "I have continued over the years because the cost of surgery keeps increasing, but the average man is unable to pay for it and there are doctors abroad that willingly offer their services to these persons," he added. "Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask instead what you can do for your country', and that's what I live by as I try to enact change by helping."

According to Dr Foster, issues within the health sector are not limited to the affordability of it but also the regularity of surgeries. "Only two surgeries are done on the average week at the University Hospital (of the West Indies), some of my patients would have died if they waited to receive surgery in Jamaica," he explained.


On THE STAR's visit to Dr Foster's office, we encountered one of his patients who sang praises of the cardiologist. Hortense Lester-Coleman told THE STAR that she was on her deathbed when her case was taken over by Foster. According to the 65-year-old, he moved swiftly to obtain surgery for her abroad and also assisted her to procure airfare.

"He is a very good person because even after he secured the free surgery for me, he still carried me to the airport and called me every day when I was abroad," she reminisced.

In Foster's office, THE STAR was shown several copies of letters of gratitude written to him by people thanking him for his assistance in saving their lives. For the 75-year-old, those letters, or persons calling to thank him, are the most rewarding aspect of helping hundreds of Jamaicans over the years. "Just to know I helped so many persons is the best part of this, because I want to be a beacon of change," he said.

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