(L) Nurse Douglas (R) Tischelle Sutherland
Can you imagine an extreme discomfort you’ve experienced in the past? If you can’t, think of the last toothache you had. Remember how uncomfortable you were once the pain hit you and how urgent you were to have it go away, taking whatever painkillers you could get in order to feel even slightly better.
Now imagine this same pain and the same urgent feeling lasting for three years. Imagine not having access to pain killers or money for a medical professional. Imagine the tasks you do every day and how much harder it would be to accomplish them wracked with pain. Would you be as happy if you knew you had to wake up every day in pain? Luckily, you probably don’t have to experience this; however, there are some people who do. Many people in other countries don’t have the same luxury of painkillers and affordable medical treatment. Tischelle Sutherland, a 13-year-old Jamaican girl, is one of them. But instead of a toothache, Tischelle experiences pain that is much worse. She and many children like her experience curvature in their spine, known as scoliosis, where the spine can take on a C- or even an S-shape.
These curves cause immense pain, sometimes starting really young in life. As the child grows up, the curve worsens and the parents are left to helplessly watch as their child’s quality of life deteriorates. In most cases, parents can’t afford the expensive surgery. The only thing they can do is try to get on a waiting list at Kingston Public Hospital Cornwall Regional Hospital and wait for the Duncan Tree Foundation team to provide free surgery.Once the child makes it onto this list, the rest should be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, it isn’t in every case. Take Tischelle, for example.
Like other children with scoliosis, Tischelle had to experience scoliosis back pain for years, during which she looked and felt different from all the other kids her age. She finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel as she worked her way up to the top of the waiting list, getting excited yet slightly nervous about the surgery date. Finally, the day came for Tischelle, the day she would become a different person—one who feels normal and happy with who she is. But before the day she had been waiting so long for arrived, she hit an iceberg—two icebergs. There were two patients with emergencies who had to be treated before her.
Imagine waiting your whole life for something, then finally being able to see it, and reach out for it, and watch it get pulled away from you. As frustrating as this experience was for Tischelle, all she could do was wait. Like the captain of a sinking ship, Tischelle had to wait for all her passengers to get safely off before allowing herself to be saved. Tischelle Sutherland received her surgery in July 2016. Not only did she survive the wait; she’s thriving thanks to donors like you.
Tischelle’s story is all too common: years of waiting for elective spine surgery that would alter the course of her life.
Would you be so kind as to help to shorten waiting times of years to months, if not weeks, by supporting Duncan Tree Foundation’s Scoliosis Care Fund in Jamaica and in the Philippines? Since 2012, the Duncan Tree Foundation, with the support of our corporate sponsors Medtronic Spine and NuVasive Clinical Services (formerly Biotronic) and our local partners have helped over 103 young people get off of the waiting list. With your help, we can do much more. There are an estimated 90,000 Jamaican adolescents and an estimated 3 million Filippino adolescents who suffer from scoliosis.
Your tax-deductible gift in any amount will be appreciated, especially by patients like Tischelle.
DTF team in OR
Dr. Paonessa examining patient xray