– family appeals to public spirited citizens for assistance
The family of 13-year-old Valerie Simon of St. Cuthbert’s Mission is holding on to the hope that their daughter will survive the tumour on her spinal cord that has left her in a state of paralysis. However, despite the dire circumstances Simon’s family is appealing to public spirited citizens to help them in any way they could.
Simon celebrated her 13th birthday this past February. Some weeks later, just after Easter, the young girl was having trouble holding on to simple appliances. It was even difficult for her to write as the pen would constantly fall from her grasp. The young Simon could not understand what was happening to her. As weeks passed she began to complain of numbness in her hands and severe pains in her neck.
Not long after these complaints, Simon’s parents thought it best to take their daughter to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporate (GPHC), to check with the Doctors.
The hospital conducted a series of tests to diagnose the young girl. However, officials at the GPHC related to the family that they did not have the necessary equipment to fully conduct the medical evaluation she needed.
Simon was subsequently referred to another hospital but the family chose to seek answers at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
There, Simon underwent an MRI scan where it was confirmed in August, that she had a tumor on her spinal cord at the back of her neck. Her condition is known as Spinal Cord Astrocytoma or Spinal Cord Ependymoma. These are common forms of spinal cord tumours, which affect both adults and children.
In the meantime, Simon’s situation deteriorated drastically. She can no longer return to school as the numbness in her hands has worsened, to the point where she has lost the ability to move them. The young girl’s aliment is a neurological condition, affecting her nervous system.
What once started as slight cramps in the 13-year-old’s left hand soon spread to her other limbs.
Her condition moved on to affect her right arm and both her legs, subsequently leaving all of her limbs paralyzed. In addition to paralysis, Simon also complained of severe neck pains and more recently she told her parents that she is having trouble seeing.
The young girl’s father, Septimus Simon, explained that his daughter’s illness has left her helpless.
“It’s like she’s a baby again. Right now, we doing everything for her, feeding, cleaning and moving her around, we do all of that for her.”
Before his daughter’s illness, the father described the young girl as being a friendly, pleasant and brave person who loved her school work and reading. It has been a frustrating time for Simon, as the sickness has left her incapable of doing the things she loved on her own, explained her father.
As painful as it is for the Simon family, they still remain optimistic that things will change. The father said that his daughter receives many visitors willing to help in whatever little way they can. A cousin of the family has even donated a wheelchair to help with Valerie Simon’s mobility.
In order for Simon to make a full recovery she must undergo a highly specialised surgical procedure. In seeking treatment the family visited a neurologist who visits GPHC once a month. The doctor explained that the surgery would have to be conducted outside of Guyana.
The family hoped that they could receive assistance in that regard and have turned to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for guidance. According to the father, the Ministry must conduct a medical evaluation of Simon’s condition. The evaluation will let the family know the steps they can take in treating the young girl. At this point they are still waiting on word from the Ministry.
Meanwhile, her parents wish that the information can reach them sooner as Valerie’s condition is worsening.
The Simon family related that seeing the once free spirited girl in pain has caused a “pain in the household”.
The child’s case has caught the attention of First Lady, Deolatchmee Ramotar.
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