Brave student gets much-needed financial assistance

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By Machela Osagboro

An eleven-year-old student and her family are breathing a sigh of relief after they received US $23,000 from the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) for her corrective hip surgery.

Janelle Marissa Charles was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2017, and they have been travelling to the United States twice per year so that she can undergo treatment.

The MBS money will go a long way towards covering the operation and, hopefully, the eventual complete recovery of Janelle. When OBSERVER media reached out to Janelle’s mother, Tekla Charles, she said that there are more costs attached to the trip to Miami. However, the airfare, which she paid for, was reimbursed by State Insurance Company.

Charles also revealed that the Potters Primary school donated a significant sum to her daughter’s treatment.

  The mother said that Janelle was a bit apprehensive about the surgery; “At first she didn’t want me to bother with it, but while she was at school, and while going about her daily routine, I would start to observe certain things.” 

Due to her concern, Charles did not give up on her attempts to get her daughter well.

 “She fell three times in the process of us trying to get donations for the surgery, and I realised something had to be done quickly.

“Every three months she has to go check in with Mount St. John’s to make sure her blood count is stable before she can get a CT scan done. This is to make them see that the leg is ok,” added Janelle’s mother. 

Charles went on to outline the complexities of her daughter’s treatment, and said that it takes a huge toll on the body of the young child.

“In her knee there is a gearbox and a magnet that would spin, and it would lengthen it so that it could balance with the other leg. When we went back in August, that is when they discovered that there is a situation, and the bone is thinning and we were surprised,” shared Charles. 

Although the challenges seem insurmountable, Charles said that they are not giving up. She revealed  that Janelle is a bit scared, but she is a fighter. “She likes to be brave; she is a very strong individual, and she wants to be a normal child again.”

Yesterday, Janelle and her mother left Antigua to prep for the surgery at the Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami.

The mother explained their ordeal for the past three years – “I took her to Miami in 2017, and we spent about a year and three months there while she was in treatment.

After the surgery, Janelle will have to continue her leg-lengthening procedure into adulthood. This is  to ensure that her mobility is not impeded by the disability.

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