La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie broke down in tears yesterday, as he made his first official public appearance before his constituents at an interfaith service held for him at the La Horquetta Regional Complex. After much praise and worshipping of God and giving thanks, Cuffie dismissed claims that he was brain dead which surfaced during his rehabilitation period, saying, “I was not brain dead but I’m born again.” Cuffie, who sounded as though he had a very slight slur, shared a bit of his experience, emphasising how scary the passage of the period was. He said when he suffered the first stroke and was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital they had no medication, which is usually available at all public hospitals, to reverse strokes. “They checked the other hospitals and none. Because of an arrangement with St Clair, they had it, but before they applied the medication they needed to do tests to see if I would survive it,” Cuffie said. Joined at that time on stage by his wife, Hermia, she said prayers went up before a decision was made for him to undergo the tests. “I looked at my head and my brain was looking like it was outside my head. I had to go to the US for rehab,” Cuffie added. Breaking down in tears, Cuffie said it hurt him inside when he heard about the horrible comments people were making about him and the petition that went around for his removal “from serving his constituents and the country.” Hermia said in the first week of her husband’s rehabilitation in Washington, Cuffie had a “second episode” where there was a strange shaking of his head. This also led to a second surgery, she revealed. Cuffie proudly mentioned that when he pulled through, he and his wife renewed their marital vows. Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, in her brief address at the event, thanked God for Cuffie’s return. “He is a very courageous and respectable man. Maxie gave contributions in Cabinet and is always a team player and a gentleman around the table,” she said. “Maxie is a miracle in front of us. Thank God for you.” One of Cuffie’s doctors, who monitored his progress from beginning to end, was Strokes and Diabetes Specialist Dr Jerry Antoine. Antoine, who has been working abroad for the past 45 years but is originally from Arima, said he was contacted by Cuffie at about midnight some months ago. “Strokes and diabetes are devastating in this country...I have seen miracles in action,” he told the gathering. Earlier, Cuffie, his wife and Gopie-Scoon entered the hall at 4.38 pm. As he entered there were shouts of “Welcome back” and “God bless you.” But there were even shouts of “Dead man Alive” and “Miraculous Maxie”. Cuffie returned to T&T on July 26 after his eight-month stay in Washington for rehabilitation and neurosurgery following a stroke last September. He had received surgery locally before going to Washington last November for further medical attention. Cuffie had neurosurgery in May and after completing physiotherapy was cleared to travel back home. Cuffie is expected to return to Parliament when the current mid-year recess ends next month and also return to work at his new post of Minister in Public Administration. He was given that post when the ministry was split between Marlene McDonald (Public Administration) and Stuart Young (Communication) in June. Also present at last evening’s function were several of Cuffie’s colleagues, including MPs Ancil Antoine (D’abadie/Omeara) and Nicole Olliviere (La Brea) and Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Terry Rondon.