Former La Brea MP and high commissioner to Jamaica Fitzgerald Jeffrey has died, losing a three-year battle with lung disease.
"Condolences go out to the family of former Government Minister, Ambassador and Member of Parliament for La Brea, Fitzgerald Mc Arthur Jeffrey thank you for your service to country and party," the PNM announced on its Facebook page on Saturday.
Condolences were also shared on Jeffrey's Facebook page.
In January, Jeffery disclosed he was seeking financial assistance to raise US$1 million for a lung transplant.
He had set up a GoFundMe account.
In the message shared on WhatsApp, Jeffrey said Dr Mahvindra Maharaj first diagnosed him with a severe blood clot to his lung which required urgent treatment in October 2017.
He was subsequently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at Southern Medical Clinic, San Fernando.
Jeffrey, who was high commissioner to Jamaica, had tests done at the University of the West Indies Hospital, Mona. He was diagnosed with stage four pulmonary fibrosis. The doctors recommended a lung transplant.
The cost for preparation and the actual transplant of the lung was US$500, 000 and post lung transplant care was US$500,000.
Jeffrey, 69, was a retired secondary school teacher who served as a PNM MP and a minister in the ministry of science technology and tertiary education during the 2007-2010 Patrick Manning administration.
Under the Dr Keith Rowley-led government, he was appointed as high commissioner to Jamaica in 2016 until 2018.
In February, Jeffrey said he believed his lung disease may have been caused by the December 17, 2013 oil spill at the former state-owned Petrotrin.
Some 7,000 barrels of oil, which leaked from the company's ageing infrastructure, made its way to La Brea where Jeffrey was MP in opposition at the time. Petrotrin has since been restructured and its assets vested in Trinidad Petroleum Holdings.
Jeffrey recalled the oil company used the dispersant Corexit 9500, said to be a cancer-causing agent, in the clean-up exercise.
He said he walked in the mangroves and along the coastline from La Brea to Aripero, “in the thick of the things to investigate and do research, breathing in the toxic air."
He also noted at the time, the symptoms experienced by residents exposed to the toxicity of the oil and the dispersant, and predicted that in five to six years people would see the manifestation of the danger posed.
“That time is now,” Jeffrey told Newsday in the February interview.
“Research needs to be done in La Brea to see how many people are suffering with respiratory problems since that time. That would be interesting.”