2017 – Rahsaan Abel


Story of Hope for a Family in the Republic of Guyana – Surgery Completed in Fall of 2017

My name is Rahsaan Abel. I am 16 years, a native of the Republic of Guyana and have severe kyphoscoliosis.

I was first diagnosed on 26 February, 2016. I first realized I had a problem in 2015 when I looked into the mirror and noticed my ribcage was starting to push out. After a while I started experiencing pain in the middle section of my back, to which I informed my parents. My father thought it was due to bad posture and would urge me to stand erectly. This would continue for some time until the pain got more frequent and worse. I was taken to a doctor who took X-rays and told my parents that I have Scoliosis and need spine surgery because my condition has progressed too much for a brace to fix it.

I now experience a great amount of pain in the middle section of my back and sometimes on the right side of my ribcage. I suffer when I’m lying down, sitting, standing and even walking. This problem has affected me tremendously in school since I have a problem sitting for long periods in the classroom and have to ask my teacher to stand for a while. It affects my concentration in class.

My class teacher and classmates have been very supportive of me. However, when other children at school see me walking, they tell me to walk properly or sometimes question me as to why I’m walking like that or why I’m standing and twisting my body to the side. This makes me feel embarrassed at times. My friends have really helped me through my situation by carrying my bag when I’m in pain, telling other children not to touch me on my back and even answering the children’s questions when they ask why I’m shaped like that and so on.

We were told by a local Orthopedic Surgeon that the surgery I need is not offered in Guyana because our local hospitals are not adequately equipped to perform such surgeries. My local physician was instrumental in assisting us with seeking overseas sponsorship. The medical cost is beyond our family’s capability and almost impossible for an average Guyanese family without the necessary sponsorship.

Message from Rahsaan’s Father-Desmond Abel

Prior to Rahsaan’s diagnosis of Scoliosis in February 2016, our family was oblivious to this condition or diagnosis. We started to seek a solution to his illness after which we discovered this surgery was not performed in Guyana which was very discouraging and frustrating. We then explored the possibility of getting it done overseas but the cost was beyond our ability. This Because of the protracted period over which we are seeking medical solution and the un-catered expenses that arose because of our quest to find a solution, this has placed a tremendous mental, emotional and financial burden on his mother and myself. This was also most frustrating for me as his Father since he would ask me, especially when he was in pain, when would he be getting the surgery done to which I had no answers. His sister Rosana would also ask me these very questions, especially after he would cry out in pain and ask one of our family members to massage his back. As a father this was a very stressful period for me until we were informed by his doctor, Dr. Hyder Khan, that he would be looking into a charity on our behalf.

I must say thanks to SpineHope for indeed giving my family hope again and most importantly allowing Rahsaan to dream of a successful future where his physical condition is neither a hindrance nor worry for him. Dr. Hyder Khan in Guyana was responsible for reaching out to SpineHope and the Caribbean Children Foundation, Inc. (TCCF) has graciously agreed to help sponsor his surgery and related expenses. Again, I want to say thanks to the management and staff of SpineHope and everyone who has made this medical sponsorship possible. And to the Doctors and staff at Dell Children’s Medical Center/Ascension who will be performing this surgery, a special thank you too as we look forward to the successful completion of the surgery.

Message from Rahsaan’s Sister-Rosana Abel

Hi, my name is Rosana Abel and I’m Rahsaan’s little sister. I recognized that Rahsaan was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2016. Sometimes he would be complaining of pain and would ask me to massage his back. I would feel sorry for him because my parents would not allow him to play outside many times because of his back. I love my brother Rahsaan and hope he gets well soon.

Message from Rahsaan’s Mother-Samantha Abel

Hello I’m Rahsaan’s mother. Rahsaan is the older of our two children. He is a very quiet and helpful child. I first noticed Rahsaan standing with his stomach pushed out sometime back in 2015. I took him to the doctor in February 2016 when he was diagnosed with scoliosis. The doctor said the surgery was severe and could not be done in Guyana which was frightening to me because he explained that Rahsaan’s condition can deteriorate and lead to additional medical complications. We have been seeking ever since to find sponsorship abroad because we don’t have the finances to get it done. I’m grateful to SpineHope, Dr. Matthew Geck and Dell Children’s Medical Center for being willing to perform the surgery. I’m happy that you all are helping Rahsaan to be a normal child again. Thank you all for your great effort in assisting us throughout this challenging process.

Message from Rahsaan’s Sponsor

The Caribbean Children Foundation (TCCF) is very happy to partner with SpineHope in the treatment of scoliosis patient Rahsaan from Guyana as this is an integral part of our mission, which is to make accessible to poor and critically ill Caribbean children the medical treatment and care needed for them to live a normal life. For information on TCCF or to be a donor, please visit www.tccfangels.com.

Final Message from Rahsaan

I want to be normal like the other children and I hope the surgery can straighten my back and stop the pain that I experience. I would also like to be able to play football (soccer)with my friends.

As far as my dreams, I like cars and would like to be able to build or fix cars as a career. Because of my interest in cars, my father advised me that to be able to do that I need to study Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science to be able to fix modern cars. Therefore, I want to be a Mechanical Engineer. I also want to be able to help children in need of spine surgery.

When my father told me that SpineHope accepted me, I felt very relieved and happy that I finally can get the operation done so that I can get my life back to normal. I give thanks and praise to the Almighty God and thanks to everyone who assisted in getting this done.

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Once again, we would like to thank all of the organizations and individuals who volunteered services and resources to help Rahsaan get the treatment he needed in Austin, Texas:

  • Dell Children’s Medical Center and their staff
  • Matthew Geck, MD (Spine Surgeon) and staff at Seton Spine and Scoliosis Center
  • Children’s Cardiology Associates
  • Alliance Spine
  • Medtronic Spine USA
  • NuVasive Spine Foundation
  • NuVasive, Inc.
  • Capitol Anesthesiology Association
  • Seton Family Services
  • ARA and their Staff
  • Elena Ruiz, MD (Pediatrician) and staff at Bee Caves Pediatrics
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Azarmehr Law Group (ALG Immigration Law Firm)

SpineHope would like to give a special thank you to our partner, The Caribbean Children Foundation (TCCF), for working with us to help Rahsaan and for graciously agreeing to help sponsor his medical needs.

The SpineHope U.S. Hub Program is truly a collaborative effort and we appreciate everyone who is giving this amazing gift to a wonderful young man!