Vybz Kartel facing 'life-threatening' illness in prison amid fight for freedom

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FOX 5 NY exclusive interview

Lisa Evers spoke to Vybz Kartel's attorney and family about his health and his continuing fight for freedom since being jailed in 2011.

International music superstar Vybz Kartel continues to fight for his freedom in the courts, but now he's facing an urgent new challenge – his health and very survival. 

FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers obtained a sworn medical affidavit, where his private doctor notified authorities that his Graves' Disease and heart condition were getting worse, and that if he did not get surgery soon, it could be fatal. 

In exclusive interviews, his attorney said inhumane prison conditions are putting his life at risk. Kartel's son said they will keep praying for the best.

"Mr. Palmer's illness is actually life-threatening," said human rights attorney Isat Buchanan.

Who is Vybz Kartel?

Adidja Palmer is known to millions of fans around the world as entertainer Vybz Kartel. For the last week, he's been in solitary lockdown 23 hours a day over an alleged cell phone infraction. 

Vybz Kartel has been in solitary lockdown 23 hours a day for the last week.

"He's in a cell, and if you can picture a brick oven, because that's how those cells are built, the ventilation is next to none," Buchanan said.

The man many consider to be the king of Dancehall music has been behind bars in Jamaica since 2011 on a murder conviction. It's a crime he said he did not commit, and is appealing the conviction to the UK's highest court.

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But now the severe lockdown conditions, in a brick cell with no air circulation, no water, and a bucket for a toilet, are making his health worse. That's according to Buchanan, who saw him on Memorial Day. 

"His neck was swollen, if you think of a shirt that is about 18.5 inches in the neck area, you couldn't close the collar on his neck and that's how bad it is in this moment," Buchanan said. "His face is actually swollen. And one other thing. He always wears glasses; in this condition, that causes his eyes to protrude."

What does the medical report say?

The medical report obtained exclusively by FOX 5 NY was done two months ago by Kartel's well-respected private physician, Dr. Karen Phillips.

Medical report obtained exclusively by FOX 5 NY.

It details a seven-year history battling Graves' Disease, a thyroid condition.

According to the report, despite medication, it has not gone into remission. He also suffers from two heart conditions and complications. 

Dr. Phillips recommended surgery as soon as possible.

"Fighting for his life, yes, because it can be dangerous," Buchanan said. "We do not want to get a phone call to say that because he was under this 23-hour lockdown, and unable to breathe, that he succumbed to his illness."

Exclusive interview with Vybz Kartel's son

FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers spoke exclusively with Vybz Kartel's son, Adidja Jahiem Palmer, known as Likkle Vybz, from the family's home in Jamaica. 

Vybz Kartel's son, Adidja Jahiem Palmer, known as Likkle Vybz.

He said they are keeping the faith his father will get better. 

"It weighs on my heart, I think about it a lot, but honestly, we just have to stay strong and know he is doing the best he can," Likkle Vybz said.

Likkle Vybz said he and his family thank all the fans for keeping his father in the prayers. Buchanan wrote to the prison superintendent who he said was responsible for the lockdown order and also national law enforcement officials in Jamaica.

FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers reached out to the prison officials, but received no reply.