Robinson, who up to last night remained in a stable condition at the ICU, had yesterday morning fallen ill while attending a funeral at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval, the same church where his wife’s funeral took place last September.
However his daughter, Ann Margaret Robinson, yesterday told Newsday that her father was in “good spirits” and had been taken to St Clair Medical for tests.
“He’s alright,” she said, speaking outside of the medical centre, “He had an episode so they are doing tests to determine what caused it. Right now he is fully conscious, he’s talking, eating, sleeping. He is resting comfortably. Thank you for your concern.”
Earlier, Lenore Dorset, protocol officer with the Office of the President, told reporters that Robinson was stable. “He is stable. He had a seizure at a funeral this morning,” she said.
Robinson was attending a funeral service for Charles Alleyne, son of former head of the public service Doddridge Alleyne, when he fainted during the service, which was being conducted by Fr Clyde Harvey.
Parish priest of the Church of the Assumption Fr Garfield Rochard said he was in the parish office at about 10.15 am when he was informed that Robinson had collapsed.
One parishioner said Robinson, who uses a wheelchair, was seated when he slumped forward. He was held back from falling out of his chair by a body guard and appeared unconscious for a few seconds before he was revived. Another parishioner said Robinson then called for Doddridge to hold his hand and Doddridge did so until an ambulance arrived.
Another parishioner said that as Robinson was lying on a stretcher and being placed into the back of the ambulance by paramedics, “he raised his hands in the air and was praising the Lord.”
Contacted yesterday afternoon, a grief-stricken Doddridge, 82, was unable to recall what happened at the church when Robinson fainted. “I don’t remember. The whole thing was very complicated,” he said. Efforts to contact Harvey were unsuccessful.
Robinson’s hospitalisation came five months after the death of his wife Patrica, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s last September.
It also came on the heels of the death of his brother-in-law Randolph Richard Rawlins, who died last Friday and whose funeral is carded for this Saturday.
Robinson is the second former president to collapse while attending a funeral. In 2006, former president Sir Ellis Clarke collapsed while attending the funeral of former Elections and Boundaries Commission chairman Oswald Wilson at the St Theresa’s RC Church.
Robinson, who up to yesterday remained under the care of a team of doctors led by cardiologist Dr Winston Ince, suffered what was described by medical experts as a “small convulsive episode”.
At St Clair, the former president underwent an echo cardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the chambers of the heart, and the results concluded that all was normal. As a result, Robinson was due to undergo further tests, including a CT scan to rule out complications such as internal bleeding, given his past medical history.
Tobago-born Robinson, who turns 84 in December, has a history of prostate cancer. He is also known to have a history of heart problems.
While he was prime minister, he was shot in the leg during the 1990 coup attempt at the Red House and was severely beaten after he famously ordered the armed forces to “attack with full force” in an effort to fend off the attack. To date, Robinson uses a wheelchair to get around and recently revealed that his eyesight has deteriorated to the extent that he can no longer read.
“I’m 83 years old. I cannot read. I can hardly hear. I find the greatest difficulty to walk,” he told participants of a conference on the International Criminal Court, an institution he played a key role in setting up, at the University of the West Indies in June last year.
His poor eyesight has been attributed to complications from a heart surgery he under went while he served as President and to glaucoma.
Robinson served as President from March 1997 to March 2003. As President he famously declared PNM leader Patrick Manning to be Prime Minister for “moral and spiritual” reasons after the general elections in 2001 resulted in an 18-18 tie between the PNM and UNC.
Robinson also served as Prime Minister from December 1986 to December 1991.
During his tenure in executive government, his administration came under scathing attack for cutting public servants’ salaries in the wake of an economic slump. Robinson was yesterday visited by Information Minister Neil Parsanlal at about 2.30 pm. About an hour later, a press release was issued by the Government Information Service Limited over Robinson’s hospitalisation.
Security was tight at the medical centre as some concerned friends of Robinson, including Dr Ralph Hoyte, were turned away when they tried to visit.
Robinson’s health problems began soon after he was shot in the leg during the 1990 attempted coup in which he and much of his Cabinet were held hostage by gunmen in the Red House for six days.
During the insurrection, he was also hit in the head with a rifle butt by a member of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen
In June 2009, he revealed he could hardly see and, as such, was unable to read. He also said he could hardly hear and had difficulty to walk.
A family member had also blamed his poor eyesight on the heart surgery he had as President and on his glaucoma.
At the Independence Day parade in 1997, Robinson fainted. He was subsequently diagnosed with clogged arteries which could have led to a heart attack.
Robinson was 71 when he underwent heart surgery at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in February 1998.
The surgery had reportedly released small bits of plaque from the lining of his blood vessels which then travelled as embroli through his bloodstream to impede the visual interpretative area of his brain rather than harming the eye itself. In 2007, it was revealed that since 2002, Robinson’s health expenses amounted to $1.1 million under a facility which formed part of the terms and conditions of the service of offices within the purview of the Salaries Review Commission for government ministers and other public officials.
He has been wheelchair bound for several years, but has still put in appearances at major events such as the Fifth Summit of the Americas where he is often assisted by his daughter Ann Margaret Robinson. At the funeral of his wife Patricia, last September walked slowly with a cane helped by Ann Margaret and her brother David.