Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mumia update 4 / 7 / 15

Mumia is in very poor health and has been back in the prison infirmary since Wednesday, April 2, 2015.  His transfer back to the prison is an attempt to sever Mumia from the widespread attention this recent crisis has garnered in the media. It was also an attempt to shut down the movement’s vigil at the hospital. 

When Mumia arrived in the hospital on March 30th he was in diabetic shock. His blood sugar level was at 779.  Diabetic coma, which is potentially fatal, registers at 800.

His sodium level was alarmingly high at 168 and potentially fatal.  His sodium levels have now been normalized, but he has not yet been seen by an endocrinologist (diabetes specialist.) The doctors at the hospital reiterated that there was no diabetes specialist available. Our major demand is that he be examined immediately by an independent team of medical specialists, chosem by his family and supporters. 

A small group of family and supporters visited with Mumia in the prison on April 3rd. At that time he seemed sicker and less alert than when we saw him in the hospital. His blood sugar on that day was at 336. He has lost approximately 50lbs since we last saw him in January. He was in a wheel chair, his speech was intermittently slurred, and by the end of the one-hour visit he had difficulty breathing.

Sing the petition here to get him immediate, independent and specialized medical assistance.
Secretary of PA Corrections, John E. Wetzel
Governor Tom Wolf
phone: 717 787-2500   fax: 717 772-8284
SCI-Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes


1.  In early January of this year Mumia had to be shaken out of a deep sleep by guards during count. For not being awake during count he was punished for two weeks. No visitors, phone calls or yard were allowed.  This was the beginning of a precipitous decline in his health.

2. During those two weeks he became ill with a severe skin disorder that was diagnosed as eczema by the doctors in the prison infirmary. Mumia refused visitors because he was in pain, his skin was leathery, raw, and bloody, and he was falling asleep during visits.

3. The medication he was given produced a severe reaction. His skin ruptured. He was placed in the infirmary for two weeks. During this time he was given a battery of medical tests including, since February, three blood tests.

4. On the morning of Monday, March 30th Mumia walked to the infirmary where he fainted. He was taken to the ICU of a nearby hospital, the Schuylkill Medical Center. When he arrived at the hospital he was in diabetic shock. His blood sugar level was 779.  Had it been 800, he would have been in a coma. He remained shackled to the bedpost during his entire stay.

5. On that same day, March 30th, Heidi Boghosian (former Director, National Lawyers Guild, Mumia’s Legal Team) and Johanna Fernandez (Professor of History, Baruch College, Mumia’s Legal Team) arrived at the prison for a visit. They were deeply concerned about his health after a phone conversation Fernandez had with Mumia on Friday, March 27th during which his voice sounded severely stressed. Upon arrival at the prison they were told that they couldn't see him. They pressed the issue and were finally told that he was hospitalized. They immediately alerted his wife and supporters. His wife called the prison and found out that he had been transferred to a local hospital and was in diabetic shock. 

6. Boghosian and Fernandez found the hospital and went to the ICU where they immediately encountered a phalanx of prison guards watching over one of the rooms in the ICU. A nurse confirmed that Mumia was there.

7. On that same day the Third Circuit Court was hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the Revictimization Relief Act, otherwise known as the Mumia Silencing Law.

The court hearing was taking place about an hour away in Harrisburg, PA. A carload of supporters including Pam Africa (International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal), Noelle Hanrahan (Prison Radio) and Mumia's Brother Keith Cook joined Boghosian and Fernandez, at the ICU

8. His brother, Keith Cook, was not allowed in, nor did he get any substantive information about Mumia's medical condition.

9. Supporters stayed at the hospital and kept watch in the waiting room of the ICU. Later the next day, March 31, his wife Wadiya Jamal and brother Keith Cook were allowed a 30-minute visit each, separately.

10. After a campaign of calls, the doctors/nurses finally started talking to his family. Medical staff informed us that had Mumia arrived 10 minutes later, he would have fallen into a diabetic coma. They also said that his sodium level was extremely high at 168.

11. Pam Africa called a press conference in front of the hospital. Approximately eight media outlets, including the AP and Philadelphia affiliates showed up and reported sympathetically on the story. One example can be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/family-mumia-abu-jamal-treated-diabetes-complications-30032185

12. The next day, on Wednesday, April 1, the prison changed the rules and did not allow his wife and oldest brother in. We pressed to have other members of his family see him. Mumia's younger brother, Bill Cook, and his son, Jamal Hart, were allowed very short visits. His son stormed out of the room in shock at his father's condition. He was distressed to see his father shackled, in pain and distress. Bill Cook reported that Mumia was shaking throughout the visit, that his breathing was labored, and that he was in generally terrible shape.

13. That same day, on Wed April 1, at 7PM Mumia was transferred back to the prison's infirmary. 

14. On Thursday, April 2, his family and supporters were denied visits in the prison because, according to prison officials, his medical condition did not allow it. On that same day, Mumia collapsed in the prison infirmary bathroom and was found 45 minutes later on the floor by a doctor and another prisoner.

15. On Friday April 3rd, after pressure mounted against the changing policies of the prison (non-stop calls to the prison and an on-site demonstrations) the prison allowed five people to visit him together for one hour. Mumia was brought to the visiting room in a wheel chair.  Given his condition, the visit should have taken place in the infirmary. His spirit was strong, but his body was clearly in need of urgent medical attention. As of today, he has not yet been seen by a diabetes specialist and his blood sugar continues to fluxuate dangerously, reaching 336 on April 3rd.   Yet, in spite of this dangerously high level he was given spaghetti for lunch.  He was very weak and had difficulty breathing by the end of the one-hour visit. His skin is completely disfigured—hardened and jet black all over his body, except for his face. His speech was slurred during parts of our conversation, he was trembling and had difficulty breathing by the end of the visit.  Since January he has lost at least 80lbs.

16. Mumia needs to see a diabetes specialist (endocrinologist), dermatologist, and nutritionist immediately, chosen by his family and closest supporters.  Mumia is innocent and needs to be brought home immediately.  

17. There are an estimated 80,000 prisoners with diabetes in the US prisons, and medical neglect of prisoners is rampant. We call for a full investigation of prison healthcare in Pennsylvania. The state’s medical services are for profit and have been so neglectful and abusive that its entire healthcare operations warrant independent review. The unexpected and unexplained sudden death of Phil Africa of the MOVE 9 last year, while he was under prison medical supervision, is but one of many examples of the physical jeopardy, even mortal danger, faced by prisoners across the nation undergoin

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